Saturday, December 31, 2011

Mary, Mother of God: Homily / Sermon

Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2:19)


These few words, which occur on a couple of occasions in Luke's Gospel, have had a far reaching impact. They are words which struck Blessed John Henry Newman too, and he preached a famous homily on them, and they inspired him to write one of  his best known works, the Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine.

They speak to us about the Heart of Mary, the Immaculate Heart. A phrase not used in Scripture itself, but a phrase which reveals much of what Scripture teaches. They tell us so much not only about Mary, but about our own understanding of God.

In telling us that Mary treasures and ponders these words, St Luke is telling us that she said little, but thought much. Unlike the time when the Angel visited her, she does not ask questions, she does not challenge the message given to her. That was her moment of faith, when she accepted God's will for her. Now she listens, treasures, ponders. She lets the message unfold in all its detail. She reflects and prays. She has already accepted God's will, and now, bit by bit it becomes clear to her just precisely what that means.

And that is how faith works. When we commit ourselves to faith in God, belief in his coming in the flesh, his resurrection, in the Trinity - it does not mean that we instantly and fully understand all these things. The commitment of the heart always comes ahead of the understanding of the mind. Faith leads to understanding, commitment comes before knowledge, for it is the heart that enlivens the mind.

If there are aspects of the faith we do not understand, doctrines and dogmas which puzzle and confuse us, teachings which are hard to listen to or explain, we should never feel inadequate or allow this to undermine our faith, but turn rather in prayer to this simple woman, who listened, treasured and pondered; who served her Son; and who is Mother of Faith, Immaculate Heart, Mother of God.

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