by Father Ronan Murphy
The life of Jesus began with Mary. Therefore, it was appropriate to begin the New Year with a feast of Mary, the Mother of God. Since Mary is the Mother of God, she is the Mother of joy. “Do not be afraid, for behold I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people, for today in the city of David, a Savior has been born to you who is Christ the Lord,” (Lk 2:11). So, the traditional greeting on the first day of the Year is one of joy: Happy New Year!
Pope Pius IX said, “From the beginning and before all ages God elected and predestined for His Son, a Mother from whom He was to take Flesh and be born in the fullness of time, and loved her so much above all creatures that in her alone was He perfectly pleased.” God could have made a better creation but not a better Mother. God, let me tell you, exhausted His omnipotence in creating her.
She is the woman chosen from all women to put flesh and bones on our God, to give Him the color of His eyes and His hair. She was to teach the Word of God to speak in her accent. She was to help the Almighty walk His first baby steps. Yes, she was the one chosen to give Him the body and blood in which He would live, suffer and die to redeem us. Therefore, when Christ came into the world, He said: “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You prepared for me,” (Heb 10:5).
Sometimes we ask, will a child look like its mother or its father? In this case, there was no such question. He was the image and likeness on His Father’s side and He was Marian on His Mother’s side. She was the sole human parent. No human father was involved. She alone furnished the Sacred body of her Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as the Son came eternally from the substance of the Father alone, He came from the flesh and blood of Mary alone. In other words, His entire genetic substance and constitution is Marian. His DNA is Marian. Jesus was the first Marian in history and He is, in fact, totally Marian.
O Marvel of Marvels, God created His Mother and allowed Himself to become dependent on her for His survival. The Bread of life who satisfies every hunger needed nourishment, and from her breasts she gave milk to this Bread. “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nourished you. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.”
Her title as Mother does not change and is now in eternity. He still calls her ‘Mother.’ But we must always remember that Mary is the Temple of God, not the God of the Temple. The Church teaches that only God is due adoration from us called Cultus Latria, while Cultus dulia is due to the Angels and the Saints. But special veneration is to be given to Mary given her dignity as the Mother of God and her fullness of grace. That special veneration is called Hyperdulia, which is a heightened veneration.
Having begun 2020, liturgically with the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, in whose womb the Word made his first humble dwelling, it’s worth remembering the placenta — what it meant to Jesus and Mary, and what it means to us.
A quick refresher, if you’re foggy on what a placenta is and does. It’s the organ that connects an unborn baby with its mother. The baby’s umbilical cord attaches to the placenta, and through it, the mother’s body sends oxygen and nutrients to the baby. It also filters waste out of the baby’s blood, regulates the temperature of his environment, and produces the hormones that make the pregnancy possible. Here’s the best part, though: The placenta is an organ that the mother and baby build together. We can’t say the mother’s placenta belongs to her in the same way that her womb is hers; the placenta belongs to both. Part of it is built by her body, and part by the baby’s body, but it’s one single organ — with both of their DNA. Mary didn’t only carry Jesus in her womb during those months leading up to Christmas day. She and He were attached — by a human organ that belonged to them both.
Let us turn to her motherly intercession entering a new year, attached to the placenta of her Immaculate Heart by our umbilical cord of the Holy Rosary that she may accompany us, and nurture us as we seek to conform ourselves to her Son Jesus Christ for our sanctification and salvation and that of others. Ad Jesum per Miriam — To Jesus through Mary.
Father Murphy is the Coordinator for Marian Devotions of the Diocese of Brooklyn.