VIRGO PRAEDICANDA, MULIER VENERANDA, MATER AMATA!
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 1, 2011
Readings: Nm 6:22-27 / Gal 4:4-7 / Lk 2:16-21
You got to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. You got to take seriously what Scripture says. You got to be non-selective for once, and take to heart what the Archangel himself says to this woman, blessed among all women: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
Maria … virgo praedicanda! Mary, the virgin who shocked the world by giving birth, has to be proclaimed. This is news that made it to the headlines of the world at that time that sent shock waves all over Jerusalem!
This is the news that sent shivers down the spine of the evil one, long foretold in Genesis as the woman who will strike the serpent with her heels! This is the virgin that defied all worldly logic and, contrary to her feelings of fear and trepidation, threw all caution to the winds and replied with a resounding “FIAT!”
This virgin defied not only earthly, worldly logic. She defied what now everybody seems to think is the most compassionate. She did not abort the baby born out of wedlock. She did not think of what to feed the baby. She did not think of what most people now think about with so much concern and calculation.
What would others say? I know not man!
What would others say? I know not man!
The virgin defied worldly logic, but did not defy the will of God. She listened. She experienced normal fright and worry. She asked. She begged. She prayed. But she obeyed!
Nowadays, we are in the same predicament. Population, some quarters say, is on a runaway inflation mode. Population, they say, threatens the very future of the human family. Ironically, though, their worries about the future of the human family lead so many to eradicate the very humanity they say they are trying to safeguard.
Mary, virgin, mother, woman, daughter … filled with trepidation, was nevertheless “filled with grace!”
By virtue of her saying “yes” she was elevated by the author of grace to the level not reached by any human born of Adam and Eve … she became thus, mulier veneranda, a woman worthy of veneration and emulation!
We all have our worries and fears. I fear getting sick and old. Gone past the stage of the morning of my life, I fear for so many things. I dread being incapacitated and rendered unable to do the things I enjoy. I fear for Philippine society and societies all over the world, apparently becoming fully co-opted by a Godless world of entertainment and showbiz. I fear entire governments no longer acting under the sway of the Christian, evangelical culture – what good old Pope John Paul II called a “culture of death.”
It is tempting to throw away the virgin and her lessons. It is tempting to treat Mary as just one of the female personages of the Bible, nice figures and images to put atop pedestals, but who really have nothing to tell us about how to live, what to believe, and what values to hold onto.
It is tempting to say “yes” to the rampaging culture of postmodernity and globalization, and just surrender to what the laws of economics seem to tell us … to wit: more people means more mouths to feed, more bodies to take care of, and therefore, more poverty. It is more than just tempting to fall for their arguments that prosperity will accrue automatically if we lessen the runaway population boom.
That seems the more logical thing to do … join the bandwagon of doomsayers and declare new babies as threats to the planet’s health, threats to our well-being.
There was this woman, worthy of veneration. She did not give in to popular pressure. She did not follow the surveys and the leading cultural gatekeepers in her time. She worried … Yes! She feared … undoubtedly! But despite the fears, in spite of the worries, she listened. She meditated on the angel’s words … and she obeyed. “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum!”
She gave birth. She became mother. And her son, being God and man, brought upon her the singular title that ultimately made her virgo praedicanda, and mulier veneranda! But beyond this, as mother of God, as mother of us all, as mother of grace, as mater amabilis, she is also mater amata … a woman so much loved … a woman blessed among all … MATER DEI, MATER AMATA, ORA PRO NOBIS!