Mother of God
by Fr. Benedict Solomon, O.Praem.
This story of the humble shepherds of Bethlehem coming to find Jesus “the infant lying in the manger” was read at the Dawn Mass for Christmas Day. It is repeated on January 1st because of the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary. It is the feast of Christmas again, the feast of the Incarnation and birth of our Savior, but it is on Mary’s part in this wonderful mystery of God’s love that we focus our attention. It is good that we begin the New Year with a feast dedicated to Mary in recognition of the importance of her role in the mystery of our salvation.
There are Christians who see no importance in the part Mary played in our redemption. Yet, it is God Himself Who chose her from all eternity for this role. God could have sent His Son on earth without the help of a human mother. He could have created directly a human nature in the prime of manhood. He chose instead to make His Son “like us in all things except sin” and as man He was born of a human mother, “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons,” as St. Paul puts it.
In giving our attention to the importance of Mary’s role in the mystery of our salvation, we need have no fear of taking anything from the honor, glory, and gratitude we owe to God. We honor the Virgin He first honored by making her the Mother of His Son.
In today’s Gospel she teaches us one of the most important virtues of all: wisdom. St Luke tells us how Mary responded to the wonderful things that God was doing in and around her: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Just as Mary’s womb was open to receiving God’s living Word at the moment of Christ’s Incarnation, so her heart was constantly open to receiving God’s ongoing words and messages as he continued to speak through the events of her life. This capacity and habit of reflecting in our heart on God’s action in our lives is both a sign and a source of wisdom.
We can never become mature, courageous, and joyful followers of Christ unless we deepen our capacity and develop the habit of reflecting in our heart how God is acting in, around, and through our lives.
If we follow our Mother Mary’s example, by keeping Christ in the center of our hearts, his grace will gradually heal our wounds, strengthen our weakness, resolve our conflicts, and bring us more and more of his peace.
Eight days have passed since we celebrated Christ’s birth on Christmas. Most of the world has already left the message of Christmas far behind. But the Church, with divine wisdom, has been spending these days in unceasing wonder and quiet contemplation of the most astonishing event in the entire history of the human race.
So may the prayer of the Church universal be fulfilled in us as we prayer today over the offertory gifts, “O God, who in your kindness begin all good things and bring them to fulfillment, just as we glory in the beginnings of your grace, so one day we may rejoice in its completion. Through Christ our Lord.”
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