Mary: Vessel of the New Creation

For International Women’s Day

I have been learning a lot from Benedict XVI’s analysis of the genealogies of Jesus. Here is what is said about Matthew’s genealogy, particularly in reference to Mary:

Yet most important of all is the fact that the genealogy ends with a woman: Mary, who truly marks a new beginning and relativizes the entire genealogy. Her child does not originate from any man, but is a new creation, conceived through the holy Spirit. The genealogy is still important: Joseph is the legal father of Jesus. Through him Jesus belongs by law, ‘legally’, to the house of David. And yet he comes from elsewhere, ‘from above’– from God himself. The mystery of his provenance, his dual origin, confronts us quite concretely. His origin can be named and yet is a mystery. Only God is truly his ‘father.’ The human genealogy has a certain significance in terms of world history. And yet in the end it is Mary, the lowly virgin from Nazareth, in whom a new beginning takes place, in whom human existence starts afresh.

Abraham, Our Father in Faith

Looking ahead to next Sunday’s readings:

All of salvation history begins with Abraham’s faith, his willingness to trust God enough to obey his word. Because of that faith, a blessing of righteousness is given to the nations through his offspring Isaac, who is a type and shadow of Jesus, God’s own only begotten son.

Genesis 12:1-4

The LORD said to Abram:
“Go forth from the land of your kinsfolk
and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.

“I will make of you a great nation,
and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you
and curse those who curse you.
All the communities of the earth
shall find blessing in you.”

Abram went as the LORD directed him.

The Cost of Discipleship

While Israel was not expecting a crucified messiah, the holy Spirit guided the disciples to understand the importance of the cross in God’s plan after the fact. Equally surprising was the disciples’ own encounter with the cross. Without the death to sin accomplished by being “crucified with Christ”, as St. Paul put it, there is no resurrection to life.

Mark 8:34-38

He summoned the crowd with his disciples and said to them, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it. What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? What could one give in exchange for his life? Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this faithless and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”