During the holiday season, we turn our hearts and minds toward the story and lessons of Christmas, that day when, about two thousand years ago, a Savior was born of a sweet, humble and sinless Jewish woman: the Virgin Mary, most holy Mother of God.

So the Christ child has his day, but this year, let us honor and celebrate Mary, our spiritual mother who unceasingly prays and intercedes for us, our mother of beauty and sweetness and love, not only takes our hand and leads us to her Son but brought him forth into the world. The motherhood of Mary is the origin of our Christmas celebration.

The story of Christmas is at its core, a journey home. There is a call to adventure or service that is beyond one’s capability. There is a need for courage and faith to venture into the unknown. There is both psychological and physical struggle, with wise and unexpected helpers along the way. Then a transformation of both body and soul occurs, which allows for the successful completion of the task. Finally, there is a triumphant return home and peace is restored.

Perhaps tonight more than any other night, we long for our ‘home’. The place where we store dear memories and draw on the love and security it offers. We also long for that sacred connection to Mom, our physical and psychological home. At the heart of the story of Christmas is the Mother Figure, And each year, we return to this story just as we wish we could also return home.

The Christmas story begins in the humble hometown of Joseph, Bethlehem, in Judea, with Mary about to complete her task. But Mary had been called upon long before this night. She was visited by the Angel Gabriel and told that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God. She would become a portal for the light of humanity to enter the world. Quite the calling! 

And so like anyone faced with an impossible task, she prayed. She prayed for humility, faith and strength. She surrendered fully to the quest and never looked back. All of this is made possible by Mary’s “yes,” her trust in the will of God. Therefore the Virgin Mary is, by her faith, the first Christian and the first disciple.   

So on these dark nights and in those desperate hours where we really need a miracle – or a Mom – let us be like Mary and turn our spirits over to God, trusting the path before us.

Mary, through her journey of faith, has always been present in the hearts and the prayers of the Christian people. The Mother of God had to summon the faith needed to complete the task before her. She had to take the same path as ourselves, the mission that God sets for each of us – a path which is sometimes difficult and obscure.  

It is important to recognize that Mary gave her faith in a condition of incomplete knowledge—because Mary is not divine, but rather completely human, she lacked total understanding of God’s plan. We could say that Mary’s faith was given in partial “darkness,” for she could not, as a created being, enjoy the total “light” of an omnipotent God. Nevertheless, the human condition of finite “knowing” is not a problem for Mary, for she assents unreservedly and eternally to the will of God.

The same is true for all of us. As mere humans, we simply cannot know everything that God knows. However, we must continue to have faith that even on a dark night, we are on the path back home. 

In the story of Jesus’ birth, his Mother, Mary, was approached by an angel with the news that she would birth a “Christ” child. Like many of us, she didn’t think that she was up for the task of motherhood, divine child or not, but the Angel assured her that she would be protected on her journey. 

The angels indeed guide her and Joseph on that first Christmas eve, where the newborn King, who would bring peace on earth, would be born in a feeding trough. The link between God and humanity would be birthed not in a glorious palace, but in a lowly manger.

The herald Angels brought tidings of great joy to the shepherds. They did not go to the elites or the famous – King Herod the Great, for instance. They did not go to those who had something to bring to God. Jesus’ birth was first announced to those who could only come to him with empty hands and faithful hearts.

The birth of Jesus is a profound juxtaposition of both glory and humility. Let us remember that at Christmas, God comes as the most approachable, vulnerable thing in the world—a baby, born of….a true servant of God. Let us be guided just as Mary was, to humbly accept our tasks here on earth and be of joyous service.

And so, Mary’s task is complete. The baby has been born. What a triumph! On this holy night, God’s glory entered human life, not in a palace but in a stable, not in safety, but in vulnerability. Not in mighty Jerusalem, but in insignificant Bethlehem. Not as a powerful superman, but as a helpless baby. Not from a grand ruler, but from a humble servant. 

Many of us count ourselves out of truly being of service because we aren’t powerful enough, important enough, accomplished enough, wealthy enough, or articulate enough to make a difference. Or so we think. But God has asked each of us to go into the world and be of service in some way. You don’t have to be a “somebody” in the world’s eyes in order to contribute to God’s salvation and transformation of the world. You simply need to be available for the call to service. And that is the message of Mary’s journey

Mary is our link back home, back to the divine. So in this sacred time of year, let us thank her for her devotion to God, unwavering faith, humble selflessness, and most of all, the gift of her Son.

The Holiday Heroine: Mary

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