When I put a title on this homily, I called it Walking Out Our New Year with Mary the Mother of God. I did that as I believe that the key to bringing this particular passage of Scripture to life comes from our commitment to join with our Blessed Mother and treasure the works, words and witness of Jesus this year! We are just beginning our journey from Bethlehem to Calvary. We're going to be passing through a number of events in the life of our Lord from now until Easter and onward to Pentecost. Let's not think of them only as Sunday or daily readings but as a treasury - a wealth of information concerning the one whom we call savior and Lord!
POTOMAC FALLS, VA (Catholic Online) - There is something very extraordinary about watching a young mother with her newborn. There is a bond that has been forming for nine months. In almost no time at all, a mother knows every inch of her child's form; she becomes attuned to the cry of her child and can pick it up, even in the midst of a chorus of tears. She develops a language of touch and tone that helps the baby know love and safety.
Today, on this Solemnity of Mary, we especially focus on her vocation as the mother of Jesus - She is the "Theotokos," the Holy Mother of God. The Church, at the Third Ecumenical Council in 431AD, bestowed that name upon her in order to clear up any understanding not just about her role but about her Son's nature - fully God and fully man. She was not the mother only of his human side but of God Himself in human form.
I read in another priest's homily that when a child is born, a mother is born. Actually, I believe there is a more accurate way to put that - when a child is conceived, a mother is born; when a child is born, a mother is joined to her mission. And this is what we see with the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Our Gospel reading for the Mass takes us back one week to Christmas. In the second part of the story of the Nativity from Luke, we read of the visit of the Shepherds, who came to worship the Christ child but also to tell their story. At that point St. Luke writes, And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
"Mary kept all these things." The word "kept" here is a bit underwhelming. If we were to go back to the Greek, the word we might want to choose is "treasured;" Mary treasured these things.
Just like every mother, Mary took into herself, in minute detail, what the shepherds told her. This was about her son and his birth. Not a detail would be forgotten! She would even remember the smells, sights and sounds that accompanied their story.
This was not just something she would do once. This would be her constant work as she raised her son. She would treasure every detail.
Not only would each event and every bit of information find room in her heart, St. Luke says she also would ponder them. This is an interesting word again in the Greek. Literally, to ponder here meant "to throw together." Each day from the moment of the annunciation, she had another portion of a divine revelation to add and then throw together with that which she already had in her treasury. The more she heard, learned and experienced, the greater her awareness of just what was in store for the entire world through the work and witness of her son!
Looking at the birth of our Lord, Mary might have wondered how the word will get out about her son. How would the world know he is the Messiah, the one foretold? Here come the shepherds with an amazing report - they had been visited by the Glory of God and a multitude of angels praising God. Obviously, God the Father was taking care of the birth announcements.
Christian folksinger John Fisher, many years ago, wrote a song about this:
In the town of Bethlehem a King and Ruler Child Was Born.
Not too many people noticed, just some shepherds on their farm.
Plus a few hundred thousand angels, breaking the heavens with their song;
And the rocks and mountains joined them,
For their time had come.
Obviously, Mary gained a great deal of confidence from this that she and Joseph would be well guided and guarded. Each day more and more would fit into her treasury and her heart would throw it all together as one amazing revelation of God's work in the world.
In his book "The Lord," Romano Guardini put it this way - "She buries the words like precious seed within her. her heart, like chosen ground, was deep enough to sustain the highest tree."
In another book, "The Life and Times of the Messiah Jesus," Alfred Eddersheim wrote, "Every event connected with the Messianic manifestation of Jesus would come to the virgin mother as a fresh discovery and a new surprise."
And why would St. Luke inject this little verse in the account of the shepherds? He was revealing his source! Mary was the one who, in great detail, was able to relate to him all that took place at an event where he had not been present. Matthew's gospel was his personal account as an apostle and Mark's gospel was the account of Peter. In St. Luke, we have Mary's gospel - woven together from the treasury she carried with her through the life and ministry of her son!
When I put a title on this homily, I called it Walking Out Our New Year with Mary the Mother of God. I did that as I believe that the key to bringing this particular passage of Scripture to life comes from our commitment to join with our Blessed Mother and treasure the works, words and witness of Jesus this year!
We are just beginning our journey from Bethlehem to Calvary. We're going to be passing through a number of events in the life of our Lord from now until Easter and onward to Pentecost. Let's not think of them only as Sunday or daily readings but as a treasury - a wealth of information concerning the one whom we call savior and Lord!
This is a part of continually building our personal relationship with Jesus Christ as his followers.
Let's also do more than simply store them. Let's ponder them, consider them, think of them and see how they fit together. Let's be like the two who were on the road to Emmaus when the risen Lord unpacked all of the Scriptures concerning the coming Messiah. When he had later vanished, they said, "Didn't our hearts burn within us as he spoke?"
As we begin this New Year, let us commit ourselves to a journey of faith. We have been invited to accompany the mother of our Lord in following her Son. Let us find ourselves falling even deeper in love with our savior and our God.
Father Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and a priest with the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (http://usordinariate.org) established by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, through the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus. He is currently the chaplain of the St. John Fisher Ordinariate Community, a priest in residence at Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church and Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Ordinariate. He is a popular speaker for parishes, apostolates and organizations.
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