It’s that time of year again; time to get out the tree and all the trimmings, time to brave the crowds for some great deals for presents, time to set up the train, the village, and the nativity set. But in all this time, do we take time for a moment of silence, a moment of contemplation on perhaps the overlooked piece, overcrowded by presents and flashing lights? We always say that Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but do we take time to salute Him, He Whose Birth we are celebrating, so focused we are on getting things? But, how do we contemplate such a marvelous mystery? Where do we even begin? Perhaps one woman has all the answers, one woman who was there from the very beginning, Jesus’ own dear mother herself, Mary. Perhaps a better question is why is Mary’s role in the Incarnation so belittled? Why does she not receive more recognition as the Mother of God, the one whom all of our salvation awaited on one word, her yes? Perhaps here on earth we will never know why God chose to redeem us this way, but He required Mary’s full cooperation, perhaps as a turnaround of Eve’s full cooperation in our fall, like Jesus taking on the punishment for Adam’s fall, and ours. Whatever the case may be, God certainly enjoys using those we think of as small and weak to work His wonders, making a clear statement to all that He is still very much in charge, ready to help if we’d only ask. But perhaps the worst of it is that, not only is Mary downsized, but she is also painted as a woman who was no better than any other woman, maybe even prone to sin. But why should God choose such a woman who was as trapped in the snares of the devil as any of us? What would be the point? So, again, why is Mary seen as so unimportant? Yes, Christ must be our focus, but what is the problem with Mary leading us to Him? Isn’t she His mother, isn’t He her flesh? He is God and man! But to become a man, He needed a woman, He needed Mary, and so do we.
Perhaps the best place to start is at the very beginning, or very near it. It is stated that the devil, in the guise of a serpent, tempted Eve and convinced her to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Later, when God confronts all three about their actions, He tells the serpent, “I shall put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed; she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” (Genesis 3:15) Of course, everyone naturally assumes that it is Eve that God is referring to as the woman, but how can that be if dozens of Eve’s seed does not have enmity towards the serpent and his seed? Could it in fact be another woman, another woman that, in that instance, only God and the devil knew about? The only other woman the devil could show his greatest enmity towards is the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary’s seed, as we all know, is Jesus Christ, and through Him, His Church. Would this not make more sense, then, that Mary is the one God spoke of in the Garden of Eden rather than Eve? If this is the conclusion, then it only follows that those who live out their lives dedicated to Jesus and Mary are Mary’s seed, while those who live out their lives according to the devil’s rules are his seed. In fact, this is referenced again, this time in the Apocalypse, telling of “a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars . . . and the dragon was angry against the woman; and went to make war with the rest of her seed, who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.” (Apocalypse 12: 1, 17) If this then is the same woman God spoke of in Genesis, then it is most certainly not Eve He was referring to, it had to have been Mary. True, some speculate that this woman spoken of by John could be the Church, but she only bears one man-child, one who is taken up to heaven and will rule all nations with an iron rod, which could only mean that the woman spoken of is Mary, for the Church did not give birth to Christ, she owes her existence to Him, not the other way around. (Apocalypse 12:5) In which case, then it is Mary, for she alone gave birth to the God-made-man. But that also means that the devil will rage war against those who belong to Jesus and Mary, in particular Mary for she brings those devoted to her straight to her Son and God. She knows no other path, no other destination, than the path Christ took to take us back to His Father in Heaven, as to be expected by the woman who bore Christ into the world for us, as to be expected by all who have earned the privilege of calling God friend and Father.
Now, the thing about God when He created us with free will, He wanted us to love Him freely, to choose Him over ourselves, hence why He made no attempt to stop Satan, or even Adam and Eve in their decisions. What is the point of loving freely if they are not allowed to make their choice? So God allowed them to make their choice freely, without His interference, though it may hurt Him. But that’s what made it all the more precious, more important to Him that He save those who accepted Him freely, and fully. That was why Gabriel was sent to Mary, to ask for her full cooperation in what was to come. Much would be expected from the Mother of God, the most important part, the most horrible as well, would be to give up her Son as a sacrifice to open the gates of Heaven. She might end up there, watching Him die for, as Simeon told her, “And thy own soul a sword shall pierce, that, out of many hearts, thoughts may be revealed”. (Luke 2:35) Would she be able to do it, without trying to stop everything God had planned? Would she be willing to include her own sufferings for the sake of all mankind, even if it almost kills her? Perhaps this is just one reason why God chose Mary specifically; He needed someone almost superhuman to willingly go through with Christ’s sacrifice, someone who, though it would tear her tender heart apart, would not say a word in an attempt to stop her beloved Son from His destiny. Mary, indeed, had “found grace with God,” and, in telling the angel to “behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to thy word,” gave full and knowledgeable consent to bearing her God and King. (Luke 1:30; 38) Compare this to Eve, who, even with full knowledge of the punishment, ate of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and convinced her husband to do so as well. Eve took of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, taking us away from God, whereas Mary would have to bear the fruit of the Tree of Life into the world to bring us back to God. But the fate of the world did rest on Mary’s answer to Gabriel, as she was the only one God could entrust His Son to.
To approach the tabernacle, to even touch the Holy of Holies, the priest must be clean and sanctified. How much more so, then, must be the womb that is to bear the presence of God until His birth? How much more so are the hands that must carry Him in His infancy, to care for Him as He grows? Yes, others had touched Him, but either they found healing and forgiveness from Him, or they were the ones who put Him to death. The womb that was to carry Him, the hands that were to care for Him had to be even more sanctified than the Ark of the Covenant or the hands of a priest. And so, God set up a woman from the very dawn of time, one woman worthy of bringing His Son to the world, the only one truly worthy of gazing upon His face and being in His presence. Hence why the angel greeted her with, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee, blessed art thou among women,” and why her cousin Elizabeth greeted her with, “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me; that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1: 28, 42-43) Why should you, the Mother of my God and Savior be interested in me? In fact, how could she not? He came to save us, it is only right and just that she has our best interests at heart for our best interests will surely bring us closer to God, her King and Son. Though, what we think is to our best interest and what God knows is in our best interest can be two different things, usually depending on how close we are to God and how attentive we are to His words. But that only goes to show how close Mary was, and is, to God, for she listened well and sought after His Presence all the days of her life, until finally, He sought her presence and took her into His kingdom.
How can there be any question as to the importance of Mary in the Incarnation and our redemption, of her purity, of her holiness, of her unyielding love for us and God? Is there any doubt as to the value, the immaculate purity of this Virgin? If there is, go to God for the answers, He knows everything, or even go to Mary herself, either at Lourdes, Guadalupe, Fatima, or even Quito. Everyone seems to agree that Mary is powerful with God; even the devils have stated it, as Saint Dominic de Guzman found out on several occasions. Yes, Mary is not God, but that doesn’t mean He doesn’t listen to her, or that He can’t give her powers to use for His purposes. God wants to be our friend, that’s why Jesus came, so that we can be friends again, even a family, and what better way to start a family than with a Father and a Mother, the same way God started the human race, with a man and a woman. A baby does change everything; you will never look at the world the same way again, and it was one Baby, one family on one cold, winter’s night that truly changed everything. Go to them, though they have little, that family is more than willing to shower you with love. But be warned, in this case the father, Joseph, will point you to the mother, Mary, who in turn will point you to the Child Jesus. Perhaps it is best, then, to say, “Lovely lady dressed in blue, teach us how to pray; God was once your little boy, and you know the way.” May God’s graces shower over you, just, please don’t complain if He chooses to send them to you through someone else, He has His reasons, trust Him. Be still, be silent, and let the wonder and blessings of this season wash over you as you prepare for the anniversary of the birth of Jesus Christ, brought to us through our Lady.