I had some time to be with family this past week, and I was able to visit my little niece who is just under 2 years old. It’s amazing to watch her figure so many things out and learn how to do simple things for the first time.
One of those things she is learning is the delicate art of sharing…
Sharing is a really important human skill. To be able to share points to the fact that you are secure — that you don’t feel threatened by the presence of the Other — that you actually want someone else to experience the same good thing you have experienced.
My guess is that we all struggle with “sharing” because at some level, we are afraid that we won’t have enough, or that we will miss out on something. We buy into the lie that if we share, then we lose out. We will have less. Thus — the “other” becomes a kind of threat. And we guard what we have out of fear.
Sharing can be hard to do — for kids and adults alike.
This struggle with “sharing” is especially hard, I think, when it comes to close relationships. Human beings tend to form cliques and exclusive circles of friends that nobody else is welcome to join because we want to keep those relationships to ourselves. We don’t want to share that “closeness” with newcomers… that would mean “less” for me, “less” friendship, “less” relationship.
But then — we meet Jesus. And in Him, we encounter a Person who is an absolute expert at sharing. In fact, that’s all he seems to do. Jesus wants to share everything He has with us.
Most of all, he wants to share his relationship with the Father with us.
This, it seems to me, is the boldest, most outlandish claim of Christianity — that the Eternal Son of God does NOT want to hog his relationship with the Father to himself. He doesn’t want to create a clique. He calls to every human soul: “Come to me — All of you.” He shares His friendship with the Father freely.
This is the radical inclusivity of our faith.
Joseph Ratzinger, who would go on to become Pope Benedict XVI pointed out that time and time again in the gospel accounts, we find that Jesus’ prayer life “does not aim at any kind of exclusiveness but is designed to include the others in its own relationship to God.”
We hear him say things like “I go to my Father and your Father,” and “Do not fret, little flock — for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” He goes so far as to directly instruct us to pray: “Our Father who art in heaven.”
Jesus is not the least bit threatened to include us — to share His status of “Son” with us. That’s the whole point of the Incarnation — Christ wants to make us all “sons.” Men and women alike — we are to share the Son’s life.
To be a Christian — to follow Jesus Christ — is not to be a part of a private, enclosed club or clique. It’s not even to have a certain system of ideas lodged into our heads. No — to be Christian means to step into Jesus’s relationship with the Father, together with the whole Church. What Jesus has by nature from all eternity, we are to share in by grace — this is the “adoption” that Paul speaks of in our second reading today.
We participate in the life of the Trinity through Jesus, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He alone reveals the Father and gives us access to Him. It’s through Jesus’ Life, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension that we are adopted into the family of God — The proof of this fact being the Holy Spirit crying out in us: “Abba, Father!”
This is why St. Paul emphasizes over and over throughout his letters, until he’s blue in the face it would seem, the absolute centrality of being found “IN Christ.” That little tiny, seemingly insignificant preposition “in” carries with it the profoundest of theological depth. We are baptized “into” Christ’s death and Resurrection. At the climax of our Eucharistic prayer, at the doxology as it’s called, the priest lifts of the paten and the chalice saying: “Through Him, with Him, and IN Him!”
Through Jesus — with Jesus — in Jesus! This is our entire life — to be “in the Son,” which is to say: to enter into the Trinity through Jesus. Paul can therefore say with all zeal and sincerity: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Now this puts us in an incredible position as Christians: We inherit everything that belongs to Jesus. If He is willing to share even His deepest intimacy with the Father with us, then He means to share absolutely everything with us.
This includes, of course, His precious relationship with Mary, his mother.
Today the Church lifts up and celebrates Mary’s greatest title: The Mother of God — Theotokos — the God-bearer. If Mary belongs to Jesus as his mother, then she belongs to us as well as our mother as well.
He shares His own mom with us because that’s all Jesus does — He holds nothing back from us.
Why would we refuse this generosity? This humility? This total self-offering?
St. Louis de Montfort once put it in no uncertain terms: “Anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his Father.”
Jesus shares His Father with us. And He shares His Mother with us. These two facts cannot be separated.
But we can take it yet another step… Mary shares Jesus with us. Think how hard that must have been for her — to share her only Son with the world? A world she knew wouldn’t accept all that he had to share with them.
She shared Jesus with those who would go on to abandon him and crucify him. This is a great mystery, but it’s what Mary continues to do in each of our lives. Mary the Mother of God shares Jesus with us. She gives Him away freely. She is not the least bit possessive. She eagerly desires to share that which is most dear to her.
That is the model for discipleship — to be so in love with Christ that we wouldn’t dare withhold Him from any soul. In fact — we are compelled by that same love to share Jesus with everyone we meet! We do so because we know that only in giving Him away freely can we really have Him.
Mary, Mother of God — teach us to share Your Son as you share Him.