A Transformative Greeting
Greetings on this blessed day! Whether it be the initial day of the year or any other day, we overflow with joy when we are greeted with well wishes and blessings. Certainly, heartfelt salutations from new and childhood acquaintances, friends and loved ones, and from brothers and sisters in the Faith are cherished and relished greatly. In addition, certain greetings can be transformative. An encounter comes to mind that transpired a little over 2,000 years ago. The Gospel of Luke recounts the following, “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.’” (Luke 1:41-45)
What a blessed and divine moment! Mary’s transformative greeting anointed Elizabeth with the Spirit of Light and Joy. So potent was this encounter that Elizabeth recognized her cousin Mary as the mother of her Lord. She blessed Mary, who, in turn, could have blessed Elizabeth, saying, “Blessed are you, [Elizabeth]. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but [our] heavenly Father.” (Mt 16:17) Indeed, it was by the Holy Spirit’s grace, sent by the Father and the Son, that Elizabeth grasped in her being that Mary was the mother of her Lord and, similarly, comprehended that Mary believed that what was spoken to her by that same Lord would be fulfilled.
Mary is truly the Mother of the Lord. Hence, the Catholic Church rightly acknowledges her as the Mother of God [Theotokos]. To several of our Christian brethren, this term appears scandalous. Nevertheless, it should not, as this title reveres, exalts, and glorifies God. By the power, wisdom, and goodness of God, a human creature is created and born without sin and is full of grace and sanctity so that she can conceive and bear the Son of God. This is not feasible without God!
Mary, Mother of God
Mother of God implies two factors and the first is that Mary is a mother. The true motherhood of Mary is lucidly stated in the Gospels as we read the angel Gabriel’s conversation with her. He stated, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” (Lk 1:31) In addition, Elizabeth’s words named Mary a mother when she proclaimed, “how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Certainly, Mother Mary experienced pregnancy and gave birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. Her motherhood cannot be refuted.
Furthermore, Mother of God also infers that God is her son. She truly is the mother of Jesus of Nazareth, but who is He? Jesus of Nazareth is beyond a teacher, a rabbi, or a prophet. In the Gospel according to John, He avers, “I and the Father are one.” (v. 30) In addition, after He experienced the agony of His sorrowful passion and died on the Cross, the centurion confessed, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mk 15:39) The “Theotokos” name affirms not only the true motherhood of Mary but also the true divinity of Christ Jesus. She is accurately the Mother of God and He is the Son of God and God the Son.
May Mary, the Mother of God, receive us in her maternal embrace on this new day that God has bestowed upon us. May she, likewise, conduct us to her adored Son, the Prince of Peace and Savior of the world. Ours will be Elizabeth’s exultation when she achieves this – if we let her. I pray that additional people will recognize what was so discernible and palpable to Elizabeth, the Apostles, the early disciples and the Church. And I similarly pray that we may love her with Christ’s heart so that we may please the Lord God. Indeed, she will intercede for us so that we can know, love, and serve the Lord with all our heart. The outcome will be a Spirit-filled life that touches all people around us as we greet them with joy, treat them with love, and pray for them with faith and hope.