Has the Christmas season brought us closer to Jesus and his mother?
Good morning, Happy New Year, and many blessings.
Today we begin a new year according to the “secular” calendar. And even though much of the rest of the world has begun “de-decking” the Christmas decorations, the Church continues to celebrate the Christmas season. The Gospel (Luke
) for this Feast of Mary is the account of the shepherds traveling to Bethlehem to give homage to the Child Jesus.
This is the octave day of Christmas, dedicated as a solemnity to Mary. The gospel invites us to join the shepherds as they visit the new-born child in Bethlehem, and to share in their wonder and joy. I wonder, have our celebrations over the Christmas Season brought us closer to Jesus and his mother? Or have we found it difficult to find oases of quiet time in which to enter deeply into the mystery of it all?
One of the most profound statements in this Gospel is: “Mary kept all these things in her heart and pondered them.” What is in your heart that you ponder? It may be an event, occasion, or encounter that brought you great joy. Or perhaps you may reflect on a difficulty or challenge in your life. In today’s fast-paced world, we need to choose to deliberately ponder and reflect on our lives. Pondering is not always easy. When we are hurting or feeling alone, the last thing we may want to do is to reflect on our pain or loss. It may be more comfortable to simply numb the pain. Yet God invites us to ponder our gifts, our joys, and our sorrows.
The wonderful thing revealed in this story is that God’s self-revelation as love is not to the select few but to you and me. Mary’s greatness is seen in the fact that she took time to ponder this revelation, not just in her mind but ‘in her heart’.
As we begin this new year, we find an amazing piece of Good News waiting to cheer our hearts! God has become human and is no longer remote or shadowy. We all feel comfortable with a baby, and when it smiles at us, our tired hearts are filled with joy. We can get in on the scene by knocking at the door and are greeted by Mary’s smile. Take time to sit with the little family and the shepherds, in silent wonder. Perhaps you forgot to bring a gift, but it doesn’t matter: you’ve brought yourself!
We start the year, as we start our life, under the protection of Jesus. Today we celebrate the most passionate and enduring of all human relationships, that of mother and child. As Mary looked at her baby, and gave him her breast, she knew that there was a dimension here beyond her guessing. Whenever you see a baby this year, make the connection with what is happening today, and renew your sense of wonder and awe at the delightfulness of God becoming human. This will warm your heart and make you smile more.