With Our Lady, Let Us Give Glory to God
September 8, 2003 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Reading (Romans 8:28-30) Gospel (St. Matthew 1:18-23)
We celebrate today the glorious feast of the Virgin Mary. We first of all reflect upon the rejoicing that there must have been in Heaven when finally there was a human person who was without Original Sin, a human person who loved God absolutely and perfectly as much as she possibly could at every single instant of her life. Even as a child in the womb, to the fullness of her ability as a child in the womb, she loved God completely. And at every instant, with every beat of her heart, she loved God more. Yet at the same time, as we look at that and reflect upon the glory of the feast, we also hear what Saint Paul says, “Those He predestined He also called; and those He called He also justified; and those He justified He also glorified.” And so on one level we could say that God, on the birth of our Blessed Lady, had in earnest begun the work of salvation because now the woman who would give birth to the Messiah, the woman who would be the perfect human being, the one who would be able to show everyone else how they are to live was now in the world. The angels and the saints rejoiced.
Yet, at the same time, we can see that God for centuries had already been working on this whole notion of salvation. From the first moment that Adam and Eve fell, God was right there to promise a Redeemer. And the promise of a Redeemer had one other point that was promised with it, that is, there would be a woman who would be intimately involved and that woman would crush the head of the serpent. So right from the very beginning not only did God promise this would be the case, but He began working with humanity to try to lead us toward that salvation.
Now when we hear in the Gospel reading that genealogy of Our Lord, we see some of the most abominable characters that ever lived in the history of Israel. Yet this was precisely the way God chose to prepare the people of Israel for the Messiah – in a hidden way, in an unexpected way. Who would expect with a cast of characters like these that the Messiah could possibly come from any of that? And yet, when we just simply look at Our Lady, it was once again in a hidden way and in an unexpected way that God chose to bring the Messiah into the world. Who would have expected that there would be a woman without sin? And a woman who is the most humble of all the creatures that God ever created? It is in these unexpected ways that God will work so that we have to have faith. If God were doing things with bells and whistles and neon signs flashing, it would not require much faith. But He asks that we would have that faith. That is why every time the demons would try to speak He would silence them. That is why He would tell the people not to tell anybody the things He had done for them and the miracles He had worked – because they needed faith. It is why He called Himself the “Son of Man” rather than calling Himself the “Son of God” – because we had to have faith.
So as we celebrate today this glorious feast of Our Lady, it is the same thing. All that we would see on the natural human level is a beautiful baby girl. No one would be able to look at her and say that she does not have Original Sin. She did not glow in the dark. She was not doing extraordinary things from the time she was born. But like her Son she lived a very ordinary life in the most extraordinary manner, in complete union with God in the seclusion of her heart. Now obviously some of that would come out, just as it did with Jesus; but the fact of the matter is that what most people would have seen is just a normal little girl. God had hidden everything from the eyes of most of the people so they had to have faith, they had to trust in God, and they would have to see in the example of our Blessed Lady (now also in the example of our Blessed Lord) the way that God would also work in our lives: in a hidden and unexpected manner.
For us it is a little different; it is not just all of humanity that would not be expecting, but it is we ourselves who would not be expecting any of the things that God is doing. And that is good. But we have to have faith, and we have to cooperate with the Lord in the work He has begun in each one of us because He has also called each one of us, which means that He has predestined us, which means that He has justified us, which means that He has glorified us according to the very words of Saint Paul in Sacred Scripture that we heard in the first reading. We want to fight against that. Our Lady did not fight against what God was doing in her. Our Lord certainly did not fight against what God was doing in Him. It is time we stop to realize that God chooses to work with a very unlikely cast of characters, and that He chooses to work in ways that are hidden and unexpected. So rather than telling God, “This just cannot be. How could it be possible?” instead it is time we accept that we now are this very unlikely cast of characters that God has chosen to work with. We need to cooperate with Him so that we can be justified in Christ and we can be glorified in Christ, and now and for eternity we can join Our Lady in giving greater glory to God.
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.