Every man and woman conceived as a father and a mother

Tom Bartolomeo
Reproduced with Permission

And the angel said:

Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob, forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.

"But Mary said to the angel":

How can this be, since I have no relations with a man? 'And the angel said to her in reply: The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.'

How do we fathom or even approach understanding this conversation between heaven and earth? It is beyond our experience here. None of us has had and none of us will ever have the "fullness of grace" of Mary--understandably the condition, the state of being the sinless Mother of God has which in her innocense was a revelation to Mary, an espoused virgin but not . . . but not adverse to motherhood.

Ordinary women and men who choose or rather are chosen to live chaste lives as virgins in our culture would be ridiculed, religious sisters, brothers and priests, without understanding the their calling. Innately infused in every human being, man and woman, however, is the need to father and mother. We can not separate, change or alter our sexuality in our basic human personalities. Why religious woman are called sisters, religious men brothers and consecrated priests fathers. They fulfill that lofty human imperative in spiritual terms. We are, after all, spirit and body. In the privilege and necessity of being the Mother of God Mary was conceived without sin, without any hereditary trace of sin in her person. It had to be so for one who would contain God, the creator of the universe in her womb.

We may believe we know too little of Mary's personal state of mind, but we would be wrong. Mary's reaction to her cousin Elizabeth's greeting,"Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?", elicited from Mary her understanding of God's favor to her,

My soul magnifies (proclaims) the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.

He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.

Mary quite simply is the new Eve, the Mother of God and mother of a renewed mankind, assumed into heaven and awaiting her other children.

How do we comprehend the commandment, "Honor thy father and thy mother" and not revere the mother and father in each of us? Fathers and mothers continue the creation of the world which "magnifies, proclaims the greatness of the Lord" for which Mary committed her life. In our wildest imaginings how could we or would we concoct the means of pro-creating children from generation to generation on our own--which is clearly God's work among us? Mary knew this. "All generations will call me blessed", she said, "the almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name." Mary would not have been conceived immaculately unless she was meant to bear a child. No woman here was conceived unless she was meant to bear children.

Wives and husbands, you are donors of new lives in a new heaven conceived in the womb of Mary for the family of God. So blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Mary. Why would anyone then choose contraception and forfeit the blessings by our Blessed Mother who dispenses the graces of child bearing and family to other mothers and fathers? Should we forfeit these gifts of life as mothers and fathers because of fear or the cost of raising children or the inconvenience of earning less and sacrifice family for a job or more possessions?

Our Blessed Mother was not exempt from pain and suffering in her lifetime as a mother. At Jesus' Presentation in the Temple eight days after his birth when Christ was circumcised and first shed his blood for us, Mary was told by the priest Simeon who performed the circumcision:

"Behold, this Child is appointed for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and for a sign to be opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also) that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed, Luke 2:33-35.

May the love of our Savior pierce your hearts, and we be converted and know the love of our Blessed Mother and our Lord.