Mary, the Holy Mother of God
(NUMBERS 6: 22-27; ROMANS 4; 4-7; LUKE 2: 16-21)
Today we celebrate Mary, the Mother of God. Mary we are told in today’s Gospel “treasured all these thing” and “pondered them in her heart”. What things? The visit of the shepherds. They related how the angel of the Lord had appeared to them, telling them to go to Bethlehem to see the new born baby, their saviour. Central to Mary’s reflections must have been the angel Gabriel’s message at the Annunciation, the following months - conception, growth and birth. And now rough, poor shepherds, who come to kneel before her little child and join the angels’ chorus, glorifying God.
What do you treasure? - A powerful question. It would be good to spend time reflecting prayerfully on this. You may find much to thank God for in your life: many reasons to join the shepherds in glorifying God. You might push yourself further. What do I treasure most?
Mary pondered what was happening to her. Why such a difficult journey, while pregnant; Nazareth to Bethlehem? Why birth in a stable? “The child will be holy and will be called Son of God” (Gabriel’s words).
Mary would have much to ponder in the days to come. Simeon’s frightening words in the Temple: “… this child is destined to be a sign that is rejected … and a sword will pierce your own soul too”. Soon she would be a refugee, woken up at night to escape to Egypt, fleeing Herod. Again in the Temple, desperate at having lost Jesus, she will ask in anguish, “Why have you done this to us? See how worried your father and I have been, looking for you”. Finally John will record: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother…” No need for words but much to ponder on. All this pondering would take place in the context of Gabriel’s treasured words: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you …”
Today is a day for resolutions. As Christians perhaps it would help to pray about our New Year resolutions. This Mary treasured/ Mary pondered dynamic can be helpful. If you want to make a resolution for example, about being more patient or avoiding anger, don’t start by concentrating on your lack of patience or your anger. This can keep you on a negative track. Start with what you treasure, what you value. God’s gifts to you: your family, your parents, your children; your gifts and so on. What you treasure may help you move forward positively. Assured of God’s goodness in the past will give you hope for the future.
Ian Tomlinson SJ