Pondering With Mary
In his homily for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Year A, Father Hanly asks us to ponder, with Mary, the implications of the coming of the Christ.
First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21
Introduction to Mass
Introduction to Mass
… a very special day. It’s the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God.
At the Council of Ephesus, in the year 431, people marched through the streets over the great controversy of what the Council would decide would be the title for Mary, at this great event. There was a lot of anger and there was a lot of fighting in the streets as well.
And finally, the Council decided that the best name for Mary was “Mother of God.” In Greek it’s Theotokos. And if you say Theotokos. it’s probably more expressive than, as we say, Mary, the Mother of God. It means Mary, she who bore the Saviour, she who carried God Himself.
And so it is that from that day forward it ended all arguments, not that Mary was the Mother of God, but that Jesus was both God and man, and Mary was the mother.
So today we rejoice and the church rejoices. We think of all the wondrous things that have happened since the little teenage girl said “Yes!” to the angel, that she was willing to become the mother of the Saviour.
So, as we begin this Mass, let us call to mind the ways we have failed to be generous as Mary our Mother is generous and fair, to ponder the wonders of the incarnation as Mary lived through it in her own life. And most of all, we pray that she will intercede with Jesus for us, that we might become worthy to call her “Mother” as Jesus himself calls us his brothers and sisters.
Christmas is a very joyful time, and today we have a special joy to focus on, in the readings today, the great mystery of the Incarnation: the Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us.
And today in the gospel and in the readings, we focus on the Word made flesh through Mary’s eyes, Mary, his mother.
St Luke probably knew the Blessed Mother very well, because his gospel begins with the Annunciation and the Visitation and the wonder of Christmas and what happens afterwards. And you get a feeling when you read St Luke that he has it all first hand from the Blessed Mother, who spoke about what had taken place many years after Jesus rose from the dead.
St Luke tells the story of the angels coming to Bethlehem, coming to the stable and there finding Mary and Joseph and the little child lying in a manger. Such a complete and loving picture, to find Joseph with Mary and the child in a manger. Think of all the times you have seen pictures of that, done by the greatest of artists that the world probably has ever produced, in so many situations, and still it remains Mary and the child and Joseph.
In the beginning of the gospel, we see the shepherds being told the good news and so they go rushing towards Bethlehem.
The good news was that they would find a babe lying in a manger and he would be the Christ, the Messiah, and what they believed in and what they hoped for and what they felt had finally happened, after centuries of prayer among their people, was actually taking place.
And when they ran to the stable, they saw that. They saw it was just as the angel said. And they were excited, but Luke says they were astonished. They were out of the minds. They found it unbelievable, they were so wrapped up in the incredibleness that God Himself would become man and become one of them.
But Luke adds, and there is the Mary touch, Mary was quiet. She was silent. She didn’t say anything. Mary, as Luke says, pondered these things in her heart, pondered these things in her heart.
Today is born to you a Saviour, the Messiah, the Christos, the Lord, the Anointed One of God.
Now there are two responses to the good news. The shepherds went out of their minds. They were delirious with joy. They ran back to tell all the people what they had seen and they couldn’t comprehend it. But Mary: Mary sits quietly when she hears these things and she ponders on what it means for her.
Today she invites us to be at that scene to see her and the child and Joseph, and ask ourselves, not what does it mean to the world that the Saviour, the promised Saviour, has finally come; she asks us to ponder with her, with Mary, what it means to you and what it means to me and what it means to us here today.
And we know he comes to us to forgive us, to heal us, to spend our entire lives with us, to be our companion, to be our guide, to be there in times of great joy, to be with us in times of great sorrow, never to be separated.
The child is Mary’s child, but he comes for us and becomes one with us so that we too become Mary’s child. And we are all the children of Mary and we are always to call her our mother because Jesus did this and still does it by becoming one with us in our hearts.
What are we to do?
Today Mary invites us to ponder the meaning of her child. The shepherds were amazed by the good news, but we are like Mary, no longer amazed, but rather we are called to think about, to ponder about, with Mary our mother, the implications of the coming of the Christ.
We’re to think about the blessings that come with him: peace, joy, forgiveness for all, the treasure that is given to us to recognise that in this child, born for us and who wishes to be born within us, God has indeed smiled upon us on this most happy New Year’s Day.
And so the words of the blessing that we heard in the first prayer this morning, the blessing of the Hebrews, that every Hebrew every morning would say this blessing given to him from Moses down to his people, that they would become even deeper and more important for us, for this blessing has become our blessing.
The words of the blessing are as follows:
The Lord keeps us and blesses us — and He does so in His Son Jesus.
The Lord does let His face shine upon us and is always gracious to us — in the presence of His Son in our hearts.
The Lord does look upon us kindly and the Lord gives us peace — in His Son who came to give us all these treasures.
And these are the gifts that this child brings to us as we begin our new year: blessing, life, kindness and the promise of peace.
So, today, a part of our new year’s resolutions is to ponder with Mary the great gift that Christmas brings. To ponder with Mary and rejoice in, as the scripture says to us, a Saviour has been born to you, a Saviour has been born for you and this is the Messiah, the Christos, the Lord.
May you all have a very happy and prosperous New Year.
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.