In 2016, a marvelous discovery was made in an estate house on a Scottish Isle. Researchers discovered in the estate’s collections one of Shakespeare’s First Folio’s. Valued at 3 million dollars apiece, the First Folio is one of the most sought-after books in the world as it is the first collected edition of Shakespeare’s plays published in 1623, eight years after the author’s death. The First Folio brought together 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, 18 of which had never been recorded and would have likely been lost but for the creation of the folio. In the absence of Shakespeare’s hand-written manuscripts, the closest we can get to the mind, original thoughts and intentions of the author in penning these plays is through the 230 existing copies of the First Folio.
When I consider the life of the Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Conception we celebrate liturgically on December 8, I realize that Mary’s life helps us come closer to understanding what was in the mind, thoughts and intentions of God in creating human beings. When we reflect on Mary’s purity, humility, and availability to God’s call, we discover qualities that God desires to be present in every human being. God, as the Author of all human life beginning with Adam and Eve, desires that we be loving, obedient, joyful people made in God’s image, with the capacity for friendship with God.
As we reflect on God’s goodness in preserving Mary from the stain of Original Sin from the first moment of Mary’s existence, we also realize that Mary, for her part, never sinned because she never stopped loving God. Mary is a model of love and holiness for each one of us. As we consider the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary during the Advent and Christmas Seasons, my hope is that Mary continues pointing us to God who created each one of us to know him, love him and serve him in this life and to be happy with him forever in the next.
St. Paul writes to the Corinthians: “Who has known the mind of the Lord?” While as human beings we can never know the mind of the Lord completely, I believe we can know something of the mind of the Lord and his intentions in creating human beings by gazing upon the life, love and the goodness of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May Mary place each of us close to Jesus her Son this Advent and at Christmas.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop Michael McGovern