By Jacqueline Hollcraft
On January 1st of each year, the Church celebrates Mary as Mother of God. What is provocative about this feast day is our belief that Mary is not only mother of Jesus the man, but also of His divine nature, for his humanity and divinity are inseparable. The Father gave Christ to humanity—in human form—through Mary. What we celebrate today is that within Mary’s physical body, divinity and humanity merge into one.
In his encyclical On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, St. John Paul II explains that this mystery—the Incarnation—is the result of divine collaboration. Mary collaborated with God, and her fiat, her “yes,” initiated the Incarnation.
God does not impede free will, and He did not impose Himself upon Mary. Collaboration is not one-sided; it requires give and take. God gave Mary her calling, and she gave her fiat. God received her fiat, and Mary received God Himself.
The dynamic between God and Mary perfectly displays the collaboration God wants to have with each of us. The Father and Mary’s collaboration came as a result of relationship, intimacy, and trust. We are all invited to experience that same intimacy and trust in a deep relationship with God. Mary can teach us how to develop this collaborative perspective in our own lives.
However, it can be difficult to imagine being connected to God in the way Mary was. As Immaculate Conception, she was preserved for the Son of God and remained sinless. However, though we are sinners, we can still seek to open ourselves up to grace, as much grace as we can humanly contain.
Remember, Mary was not Immaculate Conception on her own—it was Christ’s timeless, saving power that made her immaculate. The Church teaches that Christ’s salvation transcends time, and therefore Christ was able to save Mary at the moment of her conception to preserve her as a vessel, which He would later fill.
So, Mary needed Jesus just as much as we do. Like Mary, we also cannot attain fullness of grace without Christ’s saving power. As St. John Paul II explains, this grace will turn us into our fullest selves: “Grace never casts nature aside or cancels it out, but rather perfects it and ennobles it” (On the Dignity and Vocation of Women).
The beauty of this feast day is that Mary wants us to receive the same grace that filled her and made her into her fullest self—the Mother of God. And, once we become vulnerable to God’s grace—impregnated by it—Jesus will fill us. His presence within us can develop and nurture us into people who bear Christ to the world in the ways the Father calls us.
Do I intimately collaborate with the Father to bring Christ into my world? Where do I need to say “yes” and initiate God’s divine plan in my life?
Where do I need to become vulnerable to Jesus in my life?
Jacqueline Hollcraft lives in central California with her husband and seven vibrant children. She is a lecturer in the English department at Stanislaus State, and she and her husband recently began serving in their parish’s hospital ministry. In her free time she enjoys reading, hiking (especially in Yosemite), craft beer, and murder mysteries.