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More or Less Church

Joanna Depue "DJ/Deacon J" writes original songs and liturgies, does daily Farm office work and records Barbara's eMos on The Geranium Farm. A singer and dog trainer she utilizes healing touch in her private massage practice. PLEASE share YOUR original ideas for worship, special liturgies, prayers, songs, sermons and noteworthy blogs right here.
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Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Focus: Thanks, Mom

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.  When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord." Luke 1:39-45

 “An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy.” That’s a humbling Spanish proverb I came across while researching this gospel.  If anything I bet it vastly understates the case. On the brink of Christmas, this gospel gives us an opportunity to honor Mary for her coming role in the Nativity and by extension honor all those women who not only give us life, but teach us how to live it. And that’s an essential distinction.  As one wag put it: Giving birth doesn’t make you a mother, any more than owning a piano makes you a musician. It is very telling that the word “mother” is both a noun and a verb. As a verb “to mother” has much broader implications than just the act of giving birth.

So, what kind of a mother was Mary? How did she mother? And what can we learn from her, to draw closer to her Son? First of all, she was an improbable mother – a village girl who had the sun, the moon and the stars land on her one day. But for all her youth and inexperience, she looked at life through the lens of faith. St. Ambrose captures Mary’s perspective perfectly when he preaches that: “She, who bore the Savior, understood the weight of an uncertain future. She, the humblest of women, found herself called to serve her Lord in a way that seemed impossible. Yet she embraced the call, both the gift of birth and the sacrifice of the cross.” 
That’s what faith can do. It doesn’t banish fear. But it gives us the grace to accept our fears and to give them to God for his keeping. That’s the first lesson Mary teaches us: in the face of the overwhelming … Faith; in the face of the tragic … Faith; beyond physical and emotional endurance … Faith.
The human nature of Jesus was nurtured every day by this woman of faith. And beyond faith was love, the defining characteristic of motherhood. Mary loved and protected her child, struggling to give him life in a stable, fleeing before Herod into Egypt, in torment at the foot of his cross. This week’s gospel gives us another dimension of Mary’s love. How telling that while still reeling from the angel’s message, she rushes to aid her cousin Elizabeth, long-thought beyond her child-bearing years. How apt that Christ’s first miracle at Cana was initiated by his mother’s compassion for a newly married couple.

From Giotto to Bouguereau, the masters have struggled to capture Mary’s mother love. We need only look around to see that mother love mirrored in our own family and in our extended parish family. One of the great privileges of my job is to stand with families in times of great emotional and physical trial.  Repeatedly I am in awe of a mother’s faith and love, wisdom and endurance. This week’s gospel is a welcome opportunity to express our appreciation to Mary the Mother of Jesus and to all those women who love us and look after us.  Thanks, Mom.

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