TREE, FRUIT, SOIL
MARY, MOTHER OF GOD (A)
January 1, 2014
TREE, FRUIT, SOIL
Romano Guardini’s image is striking. Talking about Jesus, the Christ, is a lot like talking about the tree, along with its blossom and fruit, he says. But it won’t ever be complete unless we also talk about the soil that enabled the tree to grow, blossom, and bear fruit. Jesus is the tree, blossom and fruit all at once. But Mary was the soil that enabled the fruit-giving tree become truly what it was meant to be.
Today, our focus, being on the exact octave (8th day) after Christmas, is as much on the Son, as on the one who brought forth the Son of God. Mary is not God, let me put it as clearly at the outset as possible. Today, we do not venture into idolatry, for a creature cannot be superior to the Creator; a human person cannot have ascendancy over the Divine Person, even as one does not pick apples from lemon trees. Mary is not God who gives birth to a God, in which case her Son would be of lower rank than his mother. No … but Mary was Mother, very simply put. And Jesus was her Son, equally very simply put. But Jesus was God and Man, and He is the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity. Jesus, the Christ is Son of God, and the Son of God, through the mystery and unfathomable grace of the Incarnation, was born of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mary is definitely Mother to Jesus, the Christ. Motherhood is essentially giving birth to someone, and she did so in the case of the Son of God, the second Person of the Trinity. And it is in this sense that long standing tradition, right from the start, calls Mary, Mother of God, not simply Mother of the body of Jesus Christ, but the Mother of the totality of the Person of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man.
But I am getting to become too boring, I submit.
Ok. So let’s go poetic for a change, a poem from someone we don’t know, passed on to us by tradition …
Today’s solemn feast is nothing else and nothing less, but nothing more, than giving fitting honor (not worship) to Mary. The tree cannot form roots and trunk and stems and blossoms and fruits without an essential life-giving base – the soil. The soil does not a tree create, but God does. The soil does not give life, but God does, too. But without the soil, the tree’s life cannot be enabled, cannot take root and cannot bear fruit. May was vessel. Mary was channel. Mary was conduit. Mary was bearer of God. Let us use a fancy Greek word for now – Theotokos, which means, precisely, God-bearer.
Please do not confuse the soil with the tree, but please do not also make light of the soil in comparison with the tree. We adore Christ and we praise Him, for by the tree of the Cross, He had redeemed the world! We honor Mary and we venerate her, for she was Mother to the scion of God, through whom the Christ was born, on account of her laudable and praiseworthy cooperation!
Today, Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, we do not detract from the true worship due to God alone, and due to Christ Her Son. But we do not do wrong in honoring the Mother through whom the miracle of the Incarnation took place. Liturgy is official worship of God, but worship of God is also served by honoring and venerating those whom God made use of to fulfill His plan of salvation for the world and for all of us.
Enough of that trashy talk about us Catholics worshiping Mary and thus, being guilty of idolatry! That is not true. And that is definitely not what we do today, as everyday.
But I do take offense at the new forms of idolatry of our times. Elizabeth Scalia has a list of them modern-day idolatries that we may be guilty of. And last time I checked, venerating Mary, Mother of God, is not one of them, despite the repeated lies being peddled by haters and naysayers, who base their beliefs on destroying those of others they don’t like. And here’s the list:
The Idol of I, The Idol of the Idea, The Idol of Prosperity, The Idol of Technology, The Idols of Coolness and Sex, The Idol of Plans, The Super Idols, etc. Just look at your facebook and instagram posts … It’s all about “I” … or let’s see … what’s the latest running total of your selfies? Just look at your gadget! Even in Church! Even here. Even now! Can’t easily part with gadgets, right? Just look at how much space and bytes are given to making oneself look cool and sexy and desirable! The list goes on … We have so many idols …
And venerating Mary is not one of them!
Oh, here’s the poem …
Mary the dawn, Christ the Perfect Day;
Mary the gate, Christ the Heavenly Way!
Mary the root, Christ the Mystic Vine;
Mary the grape, Christ the Sacred Wine!
Mary the wheat, Christ the Living Bread;
Mary the stem, Christ the Rose blood-red!
Mary the font, Christ the Cleansing Flood;
Mary the cup, Christ the Saving Blood!
Mary the temple, Christ the Temple’s Lord;
Mary the Shrine, Christ the God adored!
Mary the beacon, Christ the Haven’s Rest;
Mary the mirror, Christ the Vision Blest!
Mary the Mother, Christ the Mother’s Son;
By all things blest while endless ages run. Amen!
Does this sound like idolatry to you? Not by any stretch of the imagination! Blessed be God! Blessed be Christ His Son! And praised be Mary His Mother!