Daily Reflection
of Creighton University's Online Ministries
January 1st, 2009

Eileen Burke-Sullivan

Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
World Day of Prayer for Peace
The Naming of Jesus: Titular Feast of the Society of Jesus
Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

During the Fifth Century, Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was accorded the title of “Mother of God” (Theotokos) as a way of reaffirming the unity of Jesus’ personhood. Throughout the Fourth Century the whole Church, East and West, struggled to find vocabulary that adequately named the experience of Jesus’ human presence and the powerful post-Resurrection experience of his divine presence. What did it mean for God to become human? One of the ideas that emerged was that Mary of Nazareth, his human Mother was mother of his humanity only, but if that was asserted, then Jesus’ two natures would be seen to divide his personhood. The title of Mother of God became a way of appreciating a profound unity in Jesus, as well as the wonder of what God was doing within a human person, Mary and all other human persons by extension. As with all the feasts in the Christmas season, this wonderful celebration invites us to keep the mystery of God becoming human in our hearts and reflect carefully on what we have been told.

God, by entering into historical reality and participating in human time and place as a specific human, is blessing and keeping us. By living with human limitations and striving with human challenges he is letting his face shine upon us, and by giving his life to us and for us he is giving us peace, itself. Our response to these overwhelming gifts can only be praise and gratitude if we have any humanity within us.

As with all feasts of Mary, this is an ecclesial feast and points us to the meaning of the Incarnation for the life of the Church. In the second reading today, Paul assures us that by entering human life through birth from a human mother, Jesus takes each of us into a relationship of sibling with his humanity and his divinity which are inseparable.

At every celebration of the Eucharistic Liturgy, the presiding priest mixes water with wine during the preparation of the gifts. This simple action is a symbol of the “great exchange” that the early Fathers of the Church understood that by God becoming human each human who enters sibling relationship with Jesus becomes divine. He took on our human nature so that we could receive his divine nature.

The Eucharist is one of the primary actions of God’s Spirit to carry out this great exchange. We think of the bread and wine being consecrated into the Body and Blood of the Lord, but we must see beyond that to understand that the bread and the wine are ourselves. For this reason they (the gifts) must come from the assembly. By giving them over we give ourselves over, and God takes the gift of bread and wine (ourselves) and changes the very substance of the gift and the giver into divine life. We seal the gift with the enactment of eating what we have offered – we bond it to ourselves so that the gift we have given is truly ourselves and therefore we truly have become recipients of divine nature.

The Word, of God, the Second Person of God, was conceived in the body of a human woman taking on all the dimensions of humanity that belong to human nature as God created it, without the broken addition of sin which human failure added on, so that he could reconcile us perfectly to the Father and make us heirs to divine life. Dare we ponder this as Mary did in our hearts? Dare we believe that Christ lifts us into a familiar relationship with God, so that we can address the creator of heaven and earth as “Abba” or papa? Dare we consider that God has indeed let his face – his whole being - shine upon us and be gracious to us?

What word can we utter but . . . thanks?

Click on the link below to send an e-mail response
to the writer of this reflection.
Let Your Friends Know About This Reflection By Sending Them An E-mail


Collaborative Ministry Office Guestbook