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Son of Mary


These last days of Advent the liturgy directs us to the events and people prior to the birth of Jesus. The Blessed Virgin Mary has a prominent role. Augustine preached in his Christmas sermons about Mary’s role in the incarnation: “In order to be born of the Virgin Mary, Christ assumed the form of a servant and became the Son of Man, remaining what He was, namely divine, and taking upon Himself what He was not, namely human.” (S. 186.1)

 

In quoting the hymn from St Paul's letter to the Phillipians Augustine preached: “He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave and being made in human likeness. Where? In the Virgin Mary.” (S. 196.2) In Mary’s womb Christ united human nature to divine nature for the purpose of our salvation: “The Word was made flesh for us so that, coming forth from His Mother, He might dwell among us. And he dwelt among us, so that in going back to His Father, He would prepare a dwelling place for us.” (S. 195.3)

 

Jesus straddles humanity and divinity, since “as son of His Father Christ is the source of life, and as son of His Mother, Christ is the way to eternal life. As the son of his father, Christ governs time, and as the son of His Mother, Christ has consecrated the particular day of his birth.” (S. 194.1)

 

 Augustine also preached in how Jesus took his mother as the model for the Church: “Born of the Father, He created His Mother; shaped in his mother’s womb, He was born to glorify His Father. He, the Son of holy Mary and the spouse of the holy Church, has made the Church like His Mother: He made the Church a mother for us and He kept it a virgin for Himself. What Mary was given physically, the Church has guarded spiritually, with the exception that Mary brought forth one Child, while the Church has many children destined to be gathered into one body.” (S. 195.2)

 

What could be the fruit of contemplating these mysteries? Augustine provides two answers. First, “in contemplating the virgin who bore a child, consider how you may bear the offspring of the soul, namely the virtues” (S. 191.3) and second, “because he is Truth and prince of peace, conceive Him in faith, and manifest him in good works (S. 192.2).

 

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Tom Verber
Tom Verber
Dec 20, 2023

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