Num 6:22-27; Gal 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
When Cory Aquino was proclaimed “Woman of the Year” last 1987 by TIME Magazine when she was still the president of the Philippines. We honor today the Blessed Virgin Mary which is not the “Woman of the Year” nor the “Woman of the Century” but the Woman of all History,” because she is the Mother of God Jesus Christ. We honor her because without her “yes” or without her fiat to God, our salvation is still in doom or like a dream. Jesus would not be born into this world.
She is the Mother of the Eternal Son of God. We honor Mary as the Mother of God because she agreed to let Jesus be born into her by saying to the Angel Gabriel: “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” (Lk 1:38). These words of Mary will take on a deeper meaning only when we do what Mary did: agree to let Jesus be born in her, so also with us. The way I look at it, it seems that Jesus is not born in us especially in the way we talk, the way we move and the way we do.
As we recall Mary as the Mother of Jesus, we should be reminded too that she is also our mother. We need her to support us in our journey through life. We need her love when we are in trouble and we need her powerful intercession before the Lord.
I remember a friend of mine who told me that when she was about to give birth to her second child, she was in a state of giving up. But when she remembered the Blessed Virgin Mary, she prayed to her by saying: “Mama Mary, help me.” After a few minutes she got the strength to go on to give birth to that child in a normal way.
A priest said that one interesting thing about us Filipinos is that we seem to feel safe and at home with one another if we call our elder brother as kuya or our elder sister as ate, our uncle as tiyo or our aunt as auntie or tiya, our father as tatay or daddy or papa and our mother as nanay or mommy or mama and other such endearing titles which seem to suggest that we belong to one another as relatives. I think you can still remember that TV youth-oriented program, the That’s Entertainment which was hosted by German Moreno by which each one was calling as ate or kuya and many more. We have this expression also: ‘Feel at home,’ which imparts also a meaning that you are a member of this family and therefore entitles you to an insurance against hunger, homelessness, unemployment and gives you the right to partake of whatever the family enjoys such as food in the refrigerator, use of the car, sleep in the bedroom, wear of dresses, the freedom to call my mother as your mother too. This value is a typical Filipinos value which we can hardly find in other culture.
The Filipino Catholics have brought this value into its faith-expression by daring to call the Mother of Jesus as Mama Mary. Our Protestant brothers and sisters hesitate and afraid to call Mary as Mama because we make her as another goddess and we distance ourselves from Jesus. First World countries do not appreciate this Filipino value. In Europe and the United States, children who when they reach at the age of 18 years old are expected to move out of their parents’ home to be on their own.
The Filipino people are something else. Words like tatay and nanay are pregnant with cultural connotations that bind parents to their children. Even if after their child is married and begets his/her own family, the parents remain very much in the minds and lives of their children. That is why, to the Filipinos, Christmas is not only about the Child Jesus but also about His mother whom we Filipinos love to call as mama Mary without feeling guilty.
Personally, I have some nanays in my walk with God besides my own mother who contributed a lot in my growth in faith and in my perseverance of my chosen vocation. I knew of some mothers whom I called as Nanay Teling who was already dead, Nanay Charing Salcedo in Cagayan de Oro, Nanay Lucia and many more and of course Mama Mary which is your mother and my mother too.
If Mary is our mother, so we are sisters and brothers in God’s big family and Jesus is our elder brother. But how do we show this to the poor farmers in barrios, in far and mountainous places, to the squatters ejected from their makeshift homes, to the struggling workers who have lost their jobs, to your women, forced by circumstances, work in night clubs as ago-go dancers and into prostitution and flesh business? Let us reflect this my dear friends.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle C