As did the Gospel I chose to use for Christmas, our Gospel this weekend presents the shepherds going to Bethlehem to find the child Jesus. But this is the feast of Mary, the Mother of God, so I will focus on two statements made about Mary:
Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Mary didn’t know and understand everything that was going on. She had no idea of where all this was leading. She must have been confused, amazed, maybe a little unsettled? But what did she do? She spent quiet time with the Lord, sharing what was going on, and being quiet to listen to the Lord. This quiet, contemplative side of her enabled her to find her way through Cana, the life of Jesus, Calvary, and the Descent of the Holy Spirit in the upper room.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. In addition to being contemplative, Mary also was obedient, both to God (when she said let it be done unto me according to your word) and to the rules and rituals of her faith. She didn’t consider herself special and above the law, despite what was happening: she followed the letter of the law by having Jesus circumcised on the eighth day. We know she followed the laws of purification, forty days after the birth. She was also obedient in naming the child Jesus, as she was told by the angel.
What a wonderful example for us: obedience and contemplation. We have the commandments, the beatitudes, the words and example of Jesus in the Gospels, and the rituals of the Church to guide us as we move forward. We need to be obedient in following these guides that have been given us. They will help us discern God’s will, despite our human impulses and emotions. But just as important is the quiet time with the Lord, sharing with him what is happening and then being quiet to listen. Then, like Mary (and Joseph who found his way through “dreams”), we will find our way as we move through life, bringing the light of Christ to those around us.
As we begin a new year, I invite us to reflect on how obedient we are to following the guidelines we have been given, as well as making sure we are spending quiet time with the Lord each day. If we are doing these two things, we will certainly find our way, as did Mary and Joseph.
I wish each and every one of you, and your families, a blessed 2023. I accompany you in prayer.
Church sign of the week: Prayer is a first resource, not a last resort.