Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14
The sacraments are signs to be seen and understood by themselves, without the need for explanation. Only God himself could have invented such a seemingly contradictory sign as a Virgin-Mother.
Some years ago, a friend of mine, a mother of several children and a fervent Catholic without much schooling, received a visit at her door from a man from an evangelical church. The man, proselytizing, argued: “Madam, you have children, you know you can’t be a virgin and a mother at the same time. How can you believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus, remained a virgin?”
My friend immediately replied,
“If God is almighty, as you and I believe, then I also believe that if it was his will, even you could give birth to a child right here and right now.” The man turned around and left without much more to say, given the faith of the woman.
The first day of the year, all the faithful believers celebrate Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. The immense power of God and the unshakeable faith of Mary became a sign we can only understand through contemplation. Is there anything more fruitful than virginal love, which offers itself fully to its only beloved? Can there exist something more pure than the love of a mother holding her baby to her breast? The ancient fathers of the church compared the Virgin Birth to a ray of light passing through crystal — not doing any harm, but raising the temperature. This divine warmth made Mary’s humanity fruitful, perfecting her human limitation, because nothing is impossible for God.
Throughout the centuries of Christianity, thousands of women and men, imitating the Virgin Mary, have become fruitful before the world, engendering new expressions of justice, forgiveness, tenderness, fraternity, purity and total freedom, in all languages and within all cultures, in a consecration of body and soul to their one and only love: God. That fertile virginity brought warmth to the world in places where the coldness of individualism, sensuality or lust had frozen many hearts, making them sterile. That purity has begotten millions of daughters and sons of God in the beautiful body of Christ that is his church.
In the beginning of the new year, may the Holy Spirit of God continue to make our minds, souls and hearts the sources from which new waters of fertile virginity and virgin motherhood flow so that the world may discover the loving presence of the Almighty. Those living sacraments will leave even the most incredulous speechless.
Mary, the Virgin Mother, has always drawn millions to faith and will no doubt continue to do so, until we are all gathered under her mantle as her precious children.
I wish you a very fruitful 2021!
Northwest Catholic – January/February 2021
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., is auxiliary bishop of Seattle and vicar for Hispanic ministry.
Eusebio Elizondo, M.Sp.S., es obispo auxiliar de Seattle y vicario para el ministerio hispano.Website: www.seattlearchdiocese.org/Archdiocese/auxiliaries.aspx