Back on September 8th, I celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit at John Carroll University. The church that day celebrated the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The gospel was the story of the Annunciation—an easy springboard to reflecting on the Holy Spirit. I was struck by the “Prayer over the Offerings” which reads: “May the humanity of your Only Begotten Son come, O Lord, to our aid, and may he, who at his birth from the Blessed Virgin did not diminish but consecrated her integrity, by taking from us now our wicked deeds, make our offering acceptable to you.”
Surely, the English text of this prayer is more than a bit stilted. But what amazes me about its wording is that we are asking God the Father, through the humanity of Jesus, to come to our aid and make our offering acceptable to God. The Church is reminding us that the birth of Jesus Christ – fully human and fully divine – is the source of our salvation, because in Christ the divine became fully human both in time and in eternity. God became more like us, so that we could grow in holiness and become more like God. As the psalmist writes: “This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad!”
—Fr. Brian Paulson, S.J. is the Jesuit Provincial of the Chicago-Detroit province of the Society of Jesus.