Happy New Year!
Today we celebrate The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We celebrate a loving Mary – Mother of Jesus, and our Mother. We celebrate a fearful and troubled Mary – who at the angel Gabriel’s greeting humbled herself in trust and obedience, giving her “yes” to God and paving the way for our salvation. We celebrate a joyous Mary – who at her cousin Elizabeth’s greeting, proclaimed her joy in, and devotion to, our loving and merciful God. We celebrate a patient and courageous Mary – who traveled a long distance across rough terrain only to give birth in a stable. We celebrate an anxious Mary – who twelve years later during that Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem desperately searched for her child when he disappeared. We celebrate a trusting Mary – who twenty years later at that wedding feast in Cana, uttered the simple yet profound “do whatever he tells you” underlining her absolute and unwavering trust in her son and her Savior – her affirmation that for God nothing is impossible. We celebrate a faithful Mary who during another Passover stood at the foot of her son’s cross with dignity and courage even amidst her trauma, grief, and uncertainty. We celebrate Mary, our model, who by her witness to God’s goodness and love gives us something to aspire to and imitate.
I was blessed to see an example of this imitation of Mary in Teresa – our cantor at mass yesterday – a day that also commemorated what would have been the 20th birthday of Teresa’s son Will – a precious child who was taken from this earth very unexpectedly a few years back.
I watched and listened while Teresa led the congregation in praise and worship. I watched and listened as Teresa sang a psalm which emphasized all the blessings we receive from God. I watched and listened as Teresa sang the Gloria leading us in praise, trust and thanksgiving. I watched and listened as Teresa sang the Alleluia verse preceding the gospel – helping us to dispose ourselves to the good news that we were about to hear. I watched and listened as Teresa sang the communion song – “What Child is This” – helping each one of us to reflect on who Jesus is – the baby, the son of Mary, God incarnate, the King who brings salvation.
I could not help but see Mary in Teresa. Like Mary, Teresa lost her child much too early. But also like Mary, Teresa never lost her Savior. I imagine that like Mary, Teresa has had her fair share of fear, uncertainty, anxiety, and grief. But I also see that like Mary, Teresa has a strong and enduring faith, an abiding trust, and an abundance of joy. And like Mary, Teresa provides witness to God’s great love, mercy, and faithfulness. Like Mary, Teresa provides us with a gift.
I was blessed to experience this gift last night. I’m sure that as she celebrated Mary, Teresa also celebrated Will. And if we were listening closely last night we might have heard both Teresa and Will together proclaiming – just like Mary does – “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior. My soul magnifies the Lord”.