HAPPPY MOTHER’S DAY !
Today in the modern Calendar the Church keeps the Solemnity of Our Lady, Mother of God; and we rejoice in her maternity, and seek to learn from her example. The first Antiphon for Vespers last evening began O admirabile commercium !, and speaks of the wonder of God taking a human body of the Virgin , so that by His becoming man, we might share in His Divine Nature.
In the traditional Calendar, the first of January was the Feast of the Circumcision of Christ, when the Church remembered the first blood that He shed on His path towards our Redemption; and this too is obviously important, so that it’s not perhaps entirely obvious why it was replaced.
However : apart from the obvious delight in starting the new secular year under the patronage or our Blessed Lady, I think that the two things are actually closely linked.
Today the Church remembers Our Lady’s Motherhood; that is, the very human side of her, and of her relationship with Jesus. I have never attended a birth, but I am aware that however joyful they are, they are at the same time immensely human occasions, involving at least some pain, and some ‘blood, sweat, and tears’.
Now – and here I trespass in technical theological realms, so I crave forgiveness (and correction) if I stray from the paths of Orthodoxy – as I understand it, the pain of birth (for the mother) is a consequence of Original Sin. Consequently, Our Lady, being free from Original Sin, would have suffered no pain in giving birth to the Saviour; and thus, presumably, no tears.
The blood, however, seems to me to have been unavoidable, because the placenta is the hallmark of the baby’s humanity : and as Christ was fully human, His stay in the womb must have been marked by all the usual physical and physiological characteristics.
Accordingly, although the Church used to remember today as the Circumcision, and recall the first drops of the Precious Blood which were spilt for our salvation, it seems to me no less important to remember that, even before that, His Blood and that of his Blessed Mother were necessarily spilt in the act of birth, so as to prove His complete humanity.
At the same time, though, it not only proved Jesus’ complete humanity : it also proved the true maternity of Our Blessed Lady – which is what we celebrate today.
Of course, that is only the initial proof of motherhood : long after the birth, you can tell the real mother (as Solomon knew) by her complete commitment to her child – and as Catholics we know that our Mother has unending love for all her children, and will always care for and protect us until, with her, we stand before her Son Jesus on His throne of grace.
May we resolve to be true children of Mary; and may her love and prayers protect us all throughout this New Year – blessings which I most heartily wish you all.