Mary, Mother of God

Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J


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Because of the Immaculate Conception of Mary the Archangel Gabriel could greet Mary with, “Hail, full of grace…the Lord is with you.” (Luke 1:26-28) Mary was truly full of grace and sinless because she was the spouse of the Holy Spirit.

Gabriel announced to Mary: “You will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.” Mary’s response, after learning that she would conceive by the Holy Spirit, was a perfect act of faith: “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”

The Old Covenant began with an act of faith - the faith of Abraham, our Father in faith. The New Covenant also begins with an act of faith - the faith of Mary, our Mother in faith. And our participation in the New Covenant also begins with an act of faith - our personal act of faith. Faith is the first step on the road to salvation.

Mary’s act of faith was a blank check, “Yes, Father.” She opened herself completely to the intrusion of God into her life. She had no idea what it would involve. It was not until the Assumption that she really knew what it meant. God does not give a blue print or job description. The answers are existential. Life is lived forward but it is understood backward. My act of faith is also a blank check, “Yes, Father.” I open myself completely to the intrusion of God into my life. I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know Who holds tomorrow. And I know that with God nothing is impossible.

Mary conceived Jesus in her heart by faith before she conceived him in her womb by the Holy Spirit. Her SPIRITUAL maternity was prior to and the cause of her PHYSICAL maternity. Luke will tell us later on (8: 19-21; 11: 27-28) that her spiritual maternity is also SUPERIOR to her physical maternity. What happened at Nazareth was greater than what happened at Bethlehem. The Annunciation is greater than the Nativity. Blood may be thicker than water but faith is thicker than blood. We are Christians not by blood but by faith. Salvation is not limited to one race or nation. God wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth. Salvation comes from faith not blood.

Then Gabriel announced to Mary that her relative Elizabeth also had conceived a son in her old age and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God. Mary’s response was to hasten to the hill country to visit Elizabeth. These two responses show not only Mary’s love for the God within her, but also the love of the neighbor without, who is made in the image of God. Mary is illustrating for us the indissoluble bond between the love of God and the love of the neighbor.

Mary’s two-fold response to Gabriel also defines for us the two fold mission of Mary: to conceive Jesus in her heart by faith and then to bring him to others. This mission she continues today through her Assumption and the Communion of Saints. This two fold mission of Mary is also our mission: to conceive Jesus in our hearts and to bring him to others. And that is exactly what we do at Mass: we conceive Jesus in our heart through the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist, and then when the Mass is ended, we will go in peace to bring him to others, by our very presence and by the way we live, by the Gospel according to me.

Imitation is the highest praise and the greatest form of devotion. The glory of a mother is in the lives of her children. We cannot imitate Mary in her physical maternity but we can imitate her in her spiritual maternity. We can conceive Jesus in our hearts by faith and bring him to others. In so doing we are practicing the highest form of devotion to Mary. And we will not only give great honor to Mary, we will give even greater honor to God and bring physical, mental and spiritual health and happiness not only to ourselves but to many others.


© 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 Fr Rodney Kissinger, S.J. all rights reserved