From the Pastor – December 21, 2014

“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.” (Luke 1:31-32a)

A few years back I was praying the Rosary with our small group at 11:00am in front of the abortion clinic on St. Charles Avenue near Louisiana (before it closed), and I got yelled at by a Fundamentalist. Although I’m used to experiencing taunting while I’m praying in front of abortion clinics, I’m not used to being yelled at by a fellow “Christian” because I’m praying the Rosary.  One would think we could take a moment to set aside our differences in a mutual effort to pray for an end to abortion!

The point of the man’s rant was that I was “glorifying” Mary by saying the “Hail Mary.”  He was yelling at us “Mary is dead.  Why are you praying to her?  She’s not God!”  Finally, I realized that the disruptions were becoming too much for our little group, and I approached the man.  “May I see your Bible?” I asked him.  He begrudgingly gave it to me.  And then I turned to the first chapter of Luke from which we get the first two lines of the prayer:  “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Lk 1:28) and “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” (Lk 1:43).  I said to the man “We’re not giving any greater honor to Mary than the Angel Gabriel or the Evangelist Luke gave to her.”  And then the man voiced his biggest complaint:  “But you’re calling her the ‘Mother of God,’ and she’s not!”  I explained to the man that Christians have been using the term “Mother of God” since the Apostolic age, and that it was definitively taught in the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.  The teaching wasn’t defined to “glorify” Mary, but to specifically affirm both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus.  The man then fell back on his original argument:  “But you’re calling her the ‘Mother of God,’ and she’s not!”  At this point, I just asked him simply “Is Jesus God?” to which he nodded.  “And is Mary His Mother?”  “She’s not the ‘Mother of God!’” he yelled. At some point logic had lost the battle in this man’s brain.  So I just told him:  “I’m sorry you don’t believe, but I have no time to argue with a non-believer.  Please stop calling yourself a Christian if you don’t believe.”  Then I went back to my Rosary, and the man mercifully stopped yelling in order to contemplate my rebuke.

Sometimes we have to remember that we preach a very radical Gospel: the eternal, omnipotent and omniscient creator of the universe became a baby in Mary’s womb.  He’s called the “Son” but He’s fully God, being “consubstantial” with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit.  The Gospel on Chrismas on Thursday is a full nine month fast forward from this week’s Gospel of the Annunciation.  As we celebrate the time when Jesus was in Mary’s womb, let us not fail to pray for babies currently in their mother’s wombs.

(Rev. Msgr.) Christopher H. Nalty