St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

The Pure Lamb, Born of the Virgin                               -Homily January 19, 2014

 

Today John the Baptist points to Jesus and says: “This is the Lamb of God.” Who is the Lamb of God, who is Jesus? I would like to reflect with you on the Mysteries of the life of Jesus. The first of these mysteries is his Conception by the Holy Spirit, and his birth of the Virgin Mary.

 

Whatever in the Church is said about the Holy Virgin Mary, depends on the Mystery of Jesus. And whatever we teach about Mary, illuminates the doctrine about Jesus (cf. CCC 487). The doctrine about Mary will illuminate also the doctrine about the Church, and our own mission as members of the Church.

 

1. Mary in the annunciation is invited to conceive the Son of God. She is a consecrated virgin, and so she asks “how will it be?”. The answer is “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” The Son of God is conceived not by the activity of a man but by the power of God. The Holy Spirit makes fruitful the womb of Mary, and the Son of God takes his human body from the body of Mary (484-485).

 

In a similar way, the presence of Jesus in our hearts is not the fruit of our own efforts, our work as men and women. Jesus is God, and his presence in our hearts is the work of the Holy Spirit. The human being is not God, and so, if God will come to us and abide within us, this is not by our merits of by our own efforts, but by his power and his immense love for us. By his power, because he is the only one who can forgive sins, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” By his love, because he wants to forgive us, he wants to dwell again in our hearts.

 

2. The Catechism also says that since the moment of his conception Jesus is “Christ,” that is to say, “anointed.” The manifestation of this mystery takes place progressively during his whole life, but his anointing is from the beginning. That is why the Baptism of the Lord is considered an Epiphany, a manifestation of the mystery. Jesus receives the fullness of grace since the first instant of his conception (cf. 486).

 

3. “"God sent forth his Son", but to prepare a body for him, he wanted the free co-operation of a creature.” (488) God did not want to redeem human kind without the cooperation of a human being, of a woman. God is almighty, but he wanted the “yes” of a woman in order to work our redemption. From all eternity he chooses Mary for that mission. From all eternity, too, God chooses each one of us for the same mission. The people of God, his Church, is the light of the whole world. God wants everyone to be saved, and for this reason he sends each one of us, and his whole Church, to the whole world, so that we may share the joy of the Gospel with all men and women.

 

Again, God can save everyone by himself, but he wants to share with us the divine work of redemption, so that, as Mary said “yes,” we may also say “yes” and help God to enter the hearts of our brothers and sisters. This collaboration in the work of redemption takes place in different ways, through the ordained ministers and through the lay members of the Church. But each one of us, in his or her own way, is chosen and called by God to be the light of the world. If we say yes, we make a difference.

 

4. Finally, one may say: “How can God choose me for such a big job?” The Catechism says that the mission of Mary was prepared by the mission of some holy women (cf. 489). Sara was an old woman and the mother of Samuel was barren: God gave them children. Judith and Esther were not soldiers: but God gave them the courage of soldiers to save their nation. As St. Paul says, God chose the weak to confound the strong. Mary was a virgin, and she bore a Son. Mary was a gentle woman, but she was the only one who had the courage to stand at the Cross of Jesus and never abandon him. God knows that we are weak, but because of that he chooses us, in order to show the world his power, the power of his love.

 

May we learn from Mary to say “yes” to the Lord, so that God may fulfill his work in us and through us for the salvation of our brothers and sisters.    –Fr. Andrew