By Graham Glover –
Today is the 10th day of Christmas, and like many of you, I have spent much of the past month meditating on the Nativity and Second Advent of Christ. The Church’s lectionary readings, hymnody, and propers are rich with references to the life of our Lord during this season, all preparing one to celebrate this glorious Feast. This focused meditation will continue for the next several days, culminating on Epiphany, which sets the stage for the celebrations of the Baptism and Transfiguration of Our Lord.
Perhaps more than any other, the faithful are directed to some of the most seminal moments in Jesus’ life during this time of the Church year. The weeks of Advent through the Transfiguration are deeply Christ-centered, second only to Holy Week in their magnitude. And praise be to God for this magnificent season! It is nothing short of wonderful to focus our attention on the author and perfecter of our faith, Christ Jesus the Lord!
But I find myself wondering if some of us Christians have missed something vitally important over these past few weeks. It’s not that our focus has been wrong or misplaced. Clearly, nothing is more important than Jesus. Nor is it that we have spent too much time meditating on Jesus (as though that is even a possibility!). Rather, it seems to me that we haven’t talked enough about someone else. Amidst our intense focus on the new Adam, we have neglected the new Eve. Our readings, hymnody, and propers have rightly prepared us to meet the Son of God. But where has our preparation been for our encounter with the Mother of God? We have hailed the newborn King, but have done little to hail the one the angel Gabriel called “full of grace”. This time of the Church year will always be about Jesus, but what about Mary? Where is the focus on the Blessed Mother that is rightly deserved by the faithful?
Now before some of you accuse me of attempting to divert our attention away from Christ, let me remind you that one cannot speak of Christ without speaking of His Mother. A deep respect and devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is always preceded by an even deeper respect and devotion to her Son. The two are forever connected, and a conversation about one cannot occur without the other. Which is why this time of the Church year, while rightly focused on Christ, should also focus on His Mother.
Don’t be fooled by those who think such a commendation is in error or that talking too much about Mary can be a dangerous thing. Only those who have a weak or faulty Christology would make such ludicrous comments. No conversation about the wonder of the Theotokos is even possible without a conversation about her Son. From her own Immaculate Conception, to the Annunciation and Visitation, the Nativity and Presentation of her Son, to her Dormition/Assumption – every reference to the life of Mary is one that is rooted in the life of Christ. Which is why a season focused on the life of Jesus should also be one that is focused on Mary. Lest we forget, her glory is Christ’s glory. Her veneration is a result exclusively of what Christ has accomplished in and through her. We hail her and call her blessed not only because Saint Luke records her beautiful Magnificat, but because we know that she is, after her Son, the most noble gem in all of Christendom.
I will continue to enjoy the meditations of this glorious time of the Church year. With 2 days of Christmas remaining, I, along with you, look forward to celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of our Lord which will follow shortly thereafter. Then, just over a month later, we will prepare for another wonderful season – the season of Lent. This time preparing for the greatest week of the year – Holy Week, where we recall the Pasion of our Lord and the promise of eternal forgiveness and everlasting life that was won for us on the cross and in the empty tomb. But once again, I will call on us to remember that at the foot of the cross stood a Mother – our Mother – whose life and example we are wise to remember.
What about Mary? Any look to her Son, both now and in the seasons to come, will always remind us why our focus should also be on her.