Happy Winter! With the solstice today we have come upon the shortest day of the year. A funny expression since all days are 24 hours. Of course, we mean that it is the day with the least amount of daylight. But it is darkest before the dawn and the light of the world will be with us soon — a fitting celebration coming just as the days grow longer (and no, Christmas was not placed at this time of year to replace a pagan winter solstice holiday — see here).
Pay attention to what happens when the Holy Spirit inspires a person (in this instance, Elizabeth) encountering the Virgin Mary (Lk 1:39-45). The Spirit of Truth has the older cousin of Mary calling her “blessed among women” and “the mother of my Lord.” Is it any wonder Catholics and Orthodox reverence Mary of Nazareth as we do? This same Spirit that inspired the entire Bible (see 2 Tim 3:16), not only has Elizabeth exclaim this greeting but He also ensures that it is contained in Holy Writ for “all generations” (Lk 1:48).
It saddens me, and most certainly must sadden Mary, now in glory with her Son as Queen, that so many of her children set her aside, don’t acknowledge her, or even have contempt for her. She was blessed unlike any person that has ever lived or will ever live by agreeing to be the bearer of the Christ. So she is the Mother of God. Properly understood this is not a problem. Even Elizabeth acknowledges her as “the mother of my Lord” (that is, adonai, the word Jews use instead of Yahweh, God’s name that is not spoken out of reverence). A woman gives birth to a person so Mary gave birth to the Second Person of the Trinity. Elizabeth knew it, Mary knew it, so “all generations” can know it.
A last, but critical, point: Mary was likely no more that two weeks pregnant when she visited Elizabeth (today’s Gospel tells us that Mary “went in haste” after her meeting with the angel Gabriel ). Even in that very early stage of gestation, Mary was truly a mom. Human life begins at conception — that’s science. Human personhood begins at that same moment — that’s Scripture. The pro-life message is clear.
I do not subscribe to very many online publications but one that does show up in my inbox every day, and one I am loathe to miss, is The Catholic Thing. The articles often provide much food for thought and, because they tend to be shorter, every interested and engaged party should be able to get through them.