SATURDAY HOMILY: Ebuka! God is Great!
These are the names they gave to their children: Ebuka (a girl) which means God is great; Chidi (a girl) which means God is beautiful; Echerem (a girl) which means God thinks of me; Chima (a girl) which means God knows my way; Odera (a girl) which means God has my life; Gorom (a girl) which means God is merciful; Ikem (a boy) which means God is my strength; and Jioke (a boy) which means God is my leader.
In a few days, the whole world will celebrate the birth of just one child who is the only Son of God and the only Son of Mary. His name is Jesus which means God is my Savior.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "Jesus means in Hebrew: 'God saves.' At the annunciation, the angel Gabriel gave him the name Jesus as his proper name, which expresses both his identity and his mission" (CCC, 420).
The liturgy of today's Mass presents to us the Magnificat, that sublime prayer of divine praise which sprang from Mary's most pure heart at the Annunciation. The names of these Nigerian octuplets read like a kind of modern Magnificat in praise of the One, True God.
Ebuka! God is great! On that first Christmas as Our Lady held the Infant Savior in her arms and contemplated the face she had so ardently longed to see, her Magnificat must have echoed in her heart. "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!" (St. Luke 1:46).
Chidi! God is beautiful! It is not uncommon to hear people remark at the sight of a newborn infant, "What a beautiful baby!" or "Oh, how adorable!" Yes, babies are beautiful and "adorable." But Mary's baby is the most beautiful of them all and is adorable in the most literal of senses because He is God Incarnate.
I once heard a wise grandmother quip that the Blessed Mother did not have to resist the temptation that every other mother must resist, namely, that of adoring her child. Jesus is indeed our beautiful Savior and worthy of all praise because He is "Emmanuel,' which means 'God is with us'" (St. Matthew 1:23).
Cherem! God thinks of me! In her Magnificat, the Blessed Virgin exclaims, "He has looked with favor on His lowly servant" (St. Luke 1:48). "From all eternity," the Catechism tells us, "God chose for the mother of his Son a daughter of Israel, a young Jewish woman of Nazareth in Galilee, "a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary" (488).
Chima! God knows my way. Contemplate the scene in Bethlehem where the Holy Family huddles together in a cave. There were many such caves in and around Bethlehem and they were often used as stables for animals. The newborn King is laid in a manger which is nothing other than a feeding trough for animals. "Jesus was born in a stable, in an inhospitable-one might even say unworthy-space, which nevertheless provided the necessary privacy for the sacred event" (Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives, by Benedict XVI).
What deep faith Our Lady had! The difficulties of the moment and the obscurity of the future did not cause her faith to falter. It was precisely by faith that she knew that she was walking, step by step, in the way set out for her by God. How well-spoken are the words of her kinswoman Elizabeth who said in praise of the Virgin: "Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (St. Luke 1:45)!
Odera! God has my life! Mary's surrender to God was total and unwavering from the first instant of her Immaculate Conception until the day she was assumed into heaven body and soul. "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word" (St. Luke 1:38).
Gorom! God is merciful! The dogma of the Immaculate Conception teaches us that Our Lady was herself a recipient of Divine Mercy having been "redeemed, in a more exalted fashion, by reason of the merits of her Son" (CCC, 492). Hence, she could truly say in her Magnificat, "My spirit rejoices in God my savior" (St. Luke 1:47).
The Church also teaches that Mary is not only a recipient of Divine Mercy but is also the Mediatrix of all graces by virtue of ...
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