JANUARY 1, 2008 Mary THEOTOKOS: NU 6:2-27; GAL 4:4-7; LUKE 2:16-21


MARY TREASURED ALL THESE THINGS AND REFLECTED ON THEM IN HER HEART.  The Spirit of God has brought us together here this morning at the beginning of the New Year acting through Minh who has just made a perpetual vow of chastity. Some of you may be surprised to hear that it is Godís Spirit himself who led you here: you came consciously simply in response to an invitation from Minh, to show support and as an expression of friendship and affection for her person. However, as todayís Feast of Mary the Mother of God reminds us, human events and decisions have more than one significance, for they are many-layered. We are often conscious only of their surface meaning, but that never exhausts their full content; it frequently happens that the hidden significance of our acts is of far more interest and holds more truth than what one is aware of. The most telling, the heaviest freighted actions are not accessible to vision or touch; they are perceived only by the senses of the heart. Real understanding takes place within the spirit where the human person is most present to the life that stirs in the interior of oneís consciousness.


Mary, the Mother of Jesus, had a strong sense of this truth concerning human experience. She grasped intuitively that there is a hidden depth in events and above all in persons, not accessible to passing, superficial attention. She realized this was especially the case in treating of the most personal of all realities, oneís dealings with God. At some point in every truly relation that is on the way to becoming deeply personal, there arises an awareness that the other is more than what appears through her behavior, more than shows in her physical appearance; this person is a mysterious other who in some hidden, very real manner exists above and behind and within this physical universe. The human person is deeper than the whole of the created world with its light years of space. Closely upon this realization is the awareness, however fleeting, however vague in its outlines, that this person is meant for life, life that does not end with the death of the body. This awareness must be accepted to persist; we must acknowledge its validity, its claim on our consent and only then does it take on a fresh density of truth, and become a passageway into the invisible world of the spirit. This choice is an acceptance of our true self, created by God for himself, created in his image and made for his likeness.


This is the world Mary moved in through the faith that she acted upon  and made the object of her reflection. Mary meditated on these things so as to discern the presence of this hidden mystery of God. In this way she came to dwell in the depths of her heart within this hidden world of the Spirit of God. The presence of God to his creation and to each of his human creatures was revealed to her with a fresh access of insight and appreciation as she became the mother of God by assenting to receive the Son of God in her womb. This same insight, conveyed by the Spirit God imparts to  each of those who put their trust in him and obey his word as they call upon his name has been given to Minh. It is that leads her to consecrate herself to the Lord for the remainder of her life. Her vow of chastity is a way of affirming Godís gift of himself to her, of reclaiming a likeness to the one who created her, and unites her forever to the Son of Mary who has redeemed her by his death and resurrection. It is this sacrifice that is the essence of this mass. Because of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus we can confidently celebrate the mysterious life given to Minh with a fresh increment of intensity today. This life, at once divine and human, that we commemorate at the Eucharist is shared with all those who, in faith and by baptism belong to the same Lord Jesus. And so we offer the mass this morning in gratitude to God for the grace he has given to our sister, Minh, and with her to all those whose life her fidelity will touch. And along with her may he bestow on each of us here as well, his undying love and preserve us all always in his paternal care.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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