By Denise Trull
We begin our year in the best of ways. Opening the door to us is none other than the Mother of God beckoning us to come in and rest awhile in her company. If you are a mother, this day belongs to you in a special way, for our Lady under this title is our own patron saint.
Of all the heresies we examined in college Theology, the one that I believed must have cut God's heart 'to the quick' was Docetism; a heresy that says that Jesus's historical and bodily existence, and above all his human form, were mere semblances without any reality. He only 'seemed' to be human. That God was a cheat, pulling a fast one, taking advantage of our creaturely weakness of mind and emotion to make us feel better about ourselves.
What a wound to His love this brash, prideful human assumption that He couldn't possibly have been really human. The unfolding implications of that fact would have been too much for their minds to handle - oh, the absolute hubris of deciding how beneath God’s dignity this concept was. So, they explained it away. They were not open or ready for the glorious scandal that is God made Man. They could not bear it. And certainly we must agree it is overwhelming a weight to bear - this being loved unto folly. That is the meaning of this feast, I think. It is a feast that helps us bear the folly.
The Mother of God. Mary was the first to know this was no illusion. She felt him stir within her womb in those first, butterfly winged flights every mother knows and loves. She felt the weight of him on the long road to Bethlehem. She knew the fright, the exhilaration, the catharsis of giving birth. She knew the absolute joy of feeling him 'latch on' for the very first time and knew He was being fed with her milk. She held him close to keep him warm. She and Joseph sometimes must have wasted whole hours just staring at Him the way we do when a child is newly born - memorizing that face with a particular family nose, shining eyes, and a puckered mouth.
In all of this, Mary tells us it is okay to love Him like that. To draw close to his humanity and see the face of God. No illusion, this, the bright, breathtaking reality of the Incarnation.
But of all the things she did, the most beautiful is this: she stored up all these things in her heart. They would later be told to Luke and Peter and the other apostles whenever she thought they needed to hear them.
But I think she also stored these things up in her heart so she could tell Jesus about His childhood and the wonder of His birth. His first word. The day he took his first steps. The way he belly laughed when Joseph held him upside down or threw him in the air.
As God, He knew all these things of course. He always knew his mission as He reminded his parents when they found Him in the temple at twelve. We cannot any of us tell anything new to God.
But the one thing we can give Him is delight. Our delight. Mary told Him about the shepherds, the angels filling the night sky, the strange journey of Kings bringing stranger gifts to a poor carpenter's son. She was probably a master story teller. And I know Jesus must have asked for some of those stories over and over just so he could watch her face when she told them; at the sheer delight she took in Him being wholly and truly human.
God loves the delight on our faces when we find gladness in His good deeds to us, of His love, of the times we could barely contain our joy at the gifts He gave. We can never give God more knowledge, more of anything - except we can always and ever give Him our delight.
That is the meaning of this feast. All of us in Mary taking delight in the humanity of Jesus. Of bravely believing every astounding implication that comes from the words Mother of GOD. Our delighting that He truly pitched His tent among us and He delighted in turn to be among the children of men. A delight that crushes heresy underfoot and breaks the idol of illusion.
Blessed be the Holy and Beautiful Humanity of Jesus and all the glorious, scandalous implications therefrom.