Friday, December 19, 2014

The Virginity of Mary and the Initiative of God

As Moses took off his shoes before the Burning Bush so did Joseph...
Praised be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

The genealogy of the Lord yesterday ended with a strange note. It started by saying that Abraham was the father of Isaac but it ended with Joseph, the husband of Mary. It was of her that Jesus was born. Everybody else was father of somebody except Joseph who was not called father of Jesus. He was simply called the husband of Mary. Why is this so? Today’s gospel explains why: When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Jesus was conceived in the womb of Mary without any help from Joseph. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the prophecy: Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall call his name “Emmanuel” which means “God is with us.” This is absolutely a defiance of nature which dictates that the woman is a fertile soil on which the man plants his seed. Joseph did not plant his seed on Mary. The gospel writer was very clear: “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. He had no relations with her…”

The virginal conception of the Lord Jesus is very important because it tells us that our salvation is completely the initiative of God. Salvation comes from God and not from man. The Savior is not the son of Joseph but of God. In fact, original sin is transmitted by man: “it is a sin which will be transmitted by propagation to all humankind, that is, by transmission of a human nature deprived of original holiness and justice.” (CCC, 404) Man cannot save himself. We could not save ourselves. Salvation can come from God alone.

And this is the reason for our joy: God saves us because he loves us. He sent us his Son to be born of the Virgin because he loves us: God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son. Salvation comes from God. Salvation is motivated by his love for us. If he did not love, he would just have left us on our own. If he did not love us, he would have abandoned us. And no matter how much we try, we cannot save ourselves. We would not have been saved had the Lord not loved us.
And this is the joyful message of the child-bearing of the Virgin Mary. The Lord loves us that he sent His Son. He did not designate some other person’s son to die on the cross to save us. He sent us his OWN SON, his only begotten Son.

“By giving up his own Son for our sins, God manifests that his plan for us is one of benevolent love, prior to any merit on our part: ‘In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.’ God ‘shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.’” (CCC, 604.)

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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