Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit and Mother of God

Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent Year C

by Fr. Tommy Lane

We are waiting for and looking forward to the celebration of Christmas. In our Gospel Mary and Elizabeth were also waiting and looking forward to the births of Jesus and John the Baptist. On this last Sunday before Christmas our thoughts turn to Mary as she carried Jesus in her womb.

As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the child in her womb leapt for joy. All the action takes place when Mary greets Elizabeth who was now an old woman even though in the culture of that time the elder came before the younger. When Mary spoke the Holy Spirit came on John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb (see Luke 1:15) and he leapt for joy. It was the moment when John the Baptist was cleansed of original sin. Mary was the Spouse of the Holy Spirit since the Annunciation when she conceived Jesus of the Holy Spirit. Now when Mary visits Elizabeth the Holy Spirit shows the importance of Mary, his Spouse, by cleansing John the Baptist of original sin and John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. I have heard one person say the Holy Spirit is boasting about Mary his Spouse.

(It is interesting that modern medical science has shown that by twenty-five weeks the baby in the womb has the ability to hear like that of an adult and can discern the moods and attitudes of its mother. Only three people were born without original sin and we celebrate their birthdays; Jesus on Dec 25th, Mary on Sep 8th and John the Baptist on June 24th. Jesus and Mary were conceived without original sin but John the Baptist was cleansed of original sin while in the womb.)

When Mary spoke, the Holy Spirit came on Elizabeth and on John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb. St. Louis Marie de Montfort, who wrote much about Mary, tells us that when we have Mary we will also have her Spouse, the Holy Spirit:

“When the Holy Spirit finds his Spouse in a soul, he flies to that soul, to communicate himself to it, to fill it with his presence, in proportion as he discovers there the presence and the fullness of his Spouse. One of the major reasons why the Holy Spirit does not now work blinding wonders of grace in our souls is that he does not find in us a sufficiently strong union with Mary his indissoluble Spouse.”
(True Devotion to Mary Part 1, chapter 1, article 2)

So when we have Mary in our lives we will also have the Holy Spirit, just as the Holy Spirit fell on Elizabeth and John the Baptist when Mary spoke. So we can say that the closer we are to Mary the closer we are to her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, and the closer we are to God. Mary leads us to God and when we have Mary in our souls the Holy Spirit comes to us.

Mary in cooperation with her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, became the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth asked, “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” Elizabeth described Mary as the “mother of my Lord” but our more common expression is Mother of God. Some people misunderstand the meaning of the title Mother of God. When we describe Mary as “Mother of God” we do not mean that Mary is the mother or source of the Trinity and we do not mean that Mary is the source of Jesus’ soul or that his divinity came from Mary. Yet Christ was both human and divine in one person; he had both human nature and divine nature (see Col 2:9). He was not two separate persons but one person with two natures so therefore we can say that Mary was the Mother of God. It is the same with every mother here. Every mother here gave a body to her child but that child’s soul came from God. Yet when we talk of someone being a child’s mother we never specify or distinguish and say the mother is the mother of child’s body but not of the child’s soul. Likewise the child says, “Hello, mother” and does not say, “Hello, mother of my body.” In the same way we call Mary the Mother of God because Jesus had human and divine nature in one person. Mary is even described as Mother of God in Scripture, in our Gospel today when Elizabeth asks, “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” And the word that Elizabeth uses for ‘Lord’ (κυριος) is a word that is used for ‘God’ in the New Testament so there can be no confusion. It is the same word that Jesus uses when he describes himself as ‘Lord of the Sabbath.’ (Mark 2:28)

So no wonder that Elizabeth says to Mary, “Of all women you are the most blessed and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” These inspired words have now become part of that beautiful prayer which we call the ‘Hail Mary.’ Mary was Mother of God once but continues to be mother for all time, mother to each of us bearing fruit in us and Mother of the Church bringing new life to the Church. St. Louis Marie de Montfort wrote,

When Mary has implanted her roots in a soul, she produces…wonders of grace which she alone can produce, because she alone is the fruitful Virgin who never has had, nor ever shall have, her equal in purity…”

So let us spend time in prayer with Mary that she may implant her roots in our souls, and produce wonders of grace which she alone can produce and that her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, may fly to us and fill us with his presence. We can understand why Pope John Paul II was very much influenced by the writings of St. Louis Marie de Montfort and took his motto “Totus Tuus, O Maria,” “I am all yours, O Mary,” from St. Louis Marie de Montfort. The best way to spend time with Mary is by praying the Rosary, the prayer which she has told us in so many places is so dear to her and which is very powerful.

When Mary spoke, the Holy Spirit came on Elizabeth and on John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb. When we have Mary in our lives we will also have the Holy Spirit, just as the Holy Spirit fell on Elizabeth and John the Baptist when Mary spoke.

“When the Holy Spirit finds his Spouse in a soul, he flies to that soul, to communicate himself to it, to fill it with his presence...”
(True Devotion to Mary Part 1, chapter 1, article 2)

When Mary has implanted her roots in a soul, she produces…wonders of grace which she alone can produce, because she alone is the fruitful Virgin who never has had, nor ever shall have, her equal in purity…”

May we spend time in prayer with Mary that she may implant her roots in our souls, and produce wonders of grace which she alone can produce and that her Spouse, the Holy Spirit, may fly to us and fill us with his presence.

Stories: Jesus in the womb of Mary, strange light in form of embryo in Guadalupe

Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2013

This homily was delivered when I was engaged in parish ministry in Ireland before joining the faculty of Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland.