Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
In the fullness of time, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born subject to the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law. We are familiar with a sense of fullness, although we rarely apply it to time. Fullness often connotes completion or satisfaction. We are satisfied, pleased and happy to have finished a task, completed studies and then graduate, come to the end of another year. Time is more of a measurement, the way we put limits on our experience to manage it more efficiently. We save time, make time, have time. We are not exactly sure what time is, but the limits it brings enable us to focus on activity and to let us see what is happening. Sporting events are structured around allotted time: beginnings and endings.
Not all times are equal. It was the worst of times, it was the best of times. Even when we fill time with what we hope will satisfy us, it doesn’t always bring happiness. Oscar Wilde said that the one thing worse than not getting what you want is getting what you want. We discover that we cannot make ourselves happy. Happiness comes as a gift and awakens a deep desire that only God can fill. Why are we happy when we are so? Something in us has been released and set free. We have transcended and surpassed a normal level of being, even while we remain simply ourselves. We enjoy this new communion which illumines reality and fills us with a new way of being alive. Our hearts have been touched by infinity, by a boundless fullness that calls us into life. It rings on every level of our being. Our dormant spirit is kissed by the Spirit of Christ and is drawn into life transfused by the presence and holiness of God. God has sent his Spirit into our hearts and they slowly respond out of that very affinity with God that they are. The Spirit of God dwells there in all fullness. Time has become the manifestation of the fullness of God. The limits of time enable us to see how God is acting. Christ himself remained within the limits of humanity and time, within the boundaries of the Law. When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised.
The journey of the shepherds to Bethlehem is the image of the journey we are called to make. Let us go and see. Let us has less to do with a project of self-determination (or a New Year’s resolution) than with an acceptance of a call to move more deeply into hidden dimensions of reality. It is a willingness to penetrate by faith beyond levels of empirical certainty and beyond satisfaction with what yields a comprehensive and coherent world-view. It is a willingness to trust the impulse of a heart which will not deny its own longing and thirst. It is a performative faith which becomes real only in living within the limits of time and space, which incarnates the life and spirit it has received from God. Like Mary, it has taken that Word to heart and is amazed that she sees and hears what she has been told. It is a happiness, a salvation, that the world cannot give. When we wish each other a happy new year, we are inviting others to live from the fullness of time, from the horizon of the future that God calls us to. Those who have eyes to see and ears to hear can discover him in the simplicity and poverty of a barnyard.