2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Mary, Mother of God - Morning Mass">
Tuesday January 1, 2002 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Mary, Mother of God
Mass at Dawn
Reading I (Numbers 6:22-27)
Reading II (Galatians 4:4-7)

Gospel (St. Luke 2:16-21)

Every year in May, our country takes a day out to remember our mothers because mothers are the most incredible of all people on the face of the earth. Today we take out a day to celebrate God’s mother because, of all mothers, she is the most incredible. When we consider what motherhood is all about and the way that it is lived - to think that life begins in the womb of a woman, she nourishes that life, she cares for it, she brings it forth; then she educates the person that she has brought forth, raises the person, cares for the person, loves the person, and all the different things that a mother does - each one of us recognizes (if we have had a good mother) the value and importance [of these things], and we all have a respect and an awe for motherhood.

But now we consider the woman that God chose to be His mother. God Himself took on our human nature and He began His human life in the womb of His mother. In His humanity he was nourished by His mother and He was educated by His mother. As He sat upon the lap of His mother, she taught Him how to pray, she taught Him how to speak, she taught Him all the natural human things that a mother does, even though he was God.

It is a mystery beyond all mysteries. Motherhood is the greatest natural miracle that we have, and we celebrate it every day. How many beautiful little babies are conceived and born every day. Yet this that we celebrate today is not a natural miracle; it is truly a supernatural one because today we celebrate the Divine Motherhood of Mary, the day that Mary is the Mother of God.

We hear how the shepherds were told about this Child who was born. When they came and saw the Child and His mother and Saint Joseph, they marveled. Now we all marvel at the birth of a baby, but this was something truly extraordinary. What they saw was what on the outside would appear to be just a normal human family: a young couple and their first child. That would not necessarily make any shepherds marvel, other than the fact that a baby has been born. But they saw something which was entirely different when they came to the little cave in Bethlehem: They found a baby who was God; they found a mother who was without sin – they found a perfect mother; and they found a husband and a stepfather who loved this woman and Child completely and as perfectly as could be.

We reflect upon the heart of this beautiful mother for a moment. We are told in Saint Luke’s Gospel what Our Lady saw and that the shepherds were marveling and telling what the angels had told them, and, after the shepherds left, Our Lady held all these things in her heart and she reflected upon them. It has been said that the closest thing to the love of God, in this world, is the heart of a mother. Imagine the heart of this mother. The beautiful heart of a mother holds all the things of her children within her heart. A mother, even with many children, carries all of their worries and anxieties and concerns, all of their joys and all of their sorrows. She carries her children with her everywhere she goes. And even when her children are far apart from her, she is still right there in her heart with her children. Imagine the heart of the woman who carries all the concerns of God because her child is God.

But not only that, because each one of us has been incorporated into her Son, this incredible woman carries each and every one of our concerns, our anxieties, our fears, our problems, our difficulties, our joys and sorrows - all the things of our life. She is with us as any mother would be, and more, because she is completely with us, never separated from us. All these things of our lives she carries with her and reflects upon them in her heart.

Now if we ponder that for a moment, we certainly give Our Lady plenty of reason to reflect and to wonder and to ponder what it is that we are up to and why we are not doing what her Son wants us to do. But what we want to be able to do is give her wonderful things to ponder, to be able to live according to the way that her Son has laid out for us, to be able to allow her to reflect upon the working of God in our lives and to be able to see the grace of God at work within each one of us. Not to be able to see her children rejecting the grace of God and going off our own way; but rather, giving her the opportunity to see her children accepting God’s mercy and love, accepting His grace and conforming themselves accordingly. That is what we want to be able to offer to our mother: to be able to fill her heart with joy as she looks at each one of us, as she sees in each one of us the image of her Son.

We reflect today upon this beautiful Immaculate Heart that, at the foot of the Cross, not only carried the pain and the sadness and the tragedy of her Son dying on the Cross, but carried at the same time the joy and the relief and the freedom of every single one of us who would accept what her Son was doing for us and would be set free from our sins to be able to live the divine life in this world. It is the most incredible thing that one will ever be able to ponder: the heart of this beautiful woman. Even for every woman that is here and [who is] able to understand the way that a woman’s heart works, no woman will even be able to understand the heart of this woman because it is perfect, it is without sin, and it is able to carry perfectly every one of us.

As we heard the prayer for God’s blessing in that first reading, that He would be gracious and bless us and let His countenance shine upon us, He has indeed done that through His mother. His face has been seen by the shepherds, by the wise men, and by all the people who lived 2,000 years ago. But He has gone even beyond that, and he has allowed the heart of His mother to shine upon us, to carry us, to bless us, to be gracious to us. God’s generosity will never be outdone. He has prepared for Himself the most perfect place for the beginning of His life. And now, as He is born into this world and we celebrate the gift of Divine Motherhood, we celebrate also the gift of spiritual motherhood because that place which was set aside for the beginning of His life (not meaning the womb of Our Lady this time, but meaning the heart of Our Lady) continues to be the perfect place for the beginning of the Christian life, for the nurturing and the growth of the Christian life, and for the education in the Christian life of every one of us. We go to our mother and there we learn, there we are nourished, there we are loved and cherished and brought up and educated in the ways of her Son. This is the beautiful thing that we celebrate today.

It is exactly what Saint Paul told us in that second reading: that her Son, "born of a woman, was born under the law to deliver from the law those who were subject to it." That is us. "We are no longer children," Saint Paul says, "of the slave woman, but of the free woman." In her freedom, each one of us is set free because she is the mother who is free from sin. She is the mother who gave birth to God so that each one of us, reborn in Baptism, reborn in her Immaculate Heart, would be incorporated into God to share the divine nature, to share the divine life, to be raised up to that divine level of acting and of being so that, as the preface says of God, He would see and love in us what He sees and loves in His Son, and that the exact same thing would be said of Our Lady: that as she carries each one of us in her Immaculate Heart, she would see and love in us what she sees and loves in her Son, and through her intercession each one of us would continue to live the divine life which God has given to us until the day we can go forward from this life and enter into the fullness of God’s blessing and behold the graciousness and the blessing of God, to look upon His face, with Our Blessed Lady, for all eternity.

In the meantime, ask Our Lady to give you her heart. Ask her to allow you to rest in her Immaculate Heart, to love her Son in you and through you, and to be able to learn from her how to love her Son perfectly. Allow her to love you in that beautiful maternal way, in the perfect maternal way. She will teach you and keep you on track so that you will be able to do the Will of her Son as she did in a most perfect way that is pleasing to God and will bring us into the fullness of God’s blessing for all eternity.

*  This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.

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