Mary, Mother of God and New Year [Lk 2:16-
01 January 2018
The Message of the Shepherds and Mary’s Faith-
Readings: (1) Num 6:22-
1. Theme in brief
Treasuring the Word in our hearts and pondering it
2. Focus Statement
Mother Church is constantly called to Imitate the following features of Mary’s Motherhood: receiving the Word of God in faith, treasuring it in her heart and pondering over its significance.
3. Explanation of the text
In today’s gospel text Mary is presented as a model for reflection and introspection into our life on the basis of God’s Word. When the shepherds heard from the angel the good news of the birth of a Saviour for all people (2:10), they hurried up to Bethlehem to "see this ‘thing’ that has taken place" (2:15). [This word ‘thing’ can also mean an event or word when it is translated from the biblical languages.] So we can understand this passage to mean that the shepherds went to Bethlehem to make known (or proclaim) the words which the Lord had made known (or revealed) to them (2:15).
When they reached, they found a mother, a father and a child lying in the manger (2:16). And the mother whom they found is described as the one who treasured all their words and pondered them in her heart (2:19). This statement highlights an important aspect of Mary’s motherhood: listening to God’s Word reflectively, keeping it as a precious treasure in her heart and pondering (literally chewing over) its meaning and relevance or significance for her (our) life. The shepherds noticed God’s boundless love revealed through the image of an ordinary family, which is guided by the faith-
In Luke’s gospel, the shepherds’ going to Bethlehem in haste (2:16) is very much related to Mary’s setting out in haste to the hill country of Judea to visit Elizabeth (1:39) in the sixth month of her pregnancy (1:36). Whereas the haste with which shepherds hurried to Bethlehem implies their eagernessto hear, see and share with others or proclaim the good news of salvation, Mary’s haste refers to her eagerness to serve her relative Elizabeth during her pregnancy. We can imagine how Mary’s faith and reflections on God’s Word overflow into action (that is, service rendered or charity done to the needy).
Further, later in Luke’s gospel we see him presenting Mary as the prototype of all those who become mothers and brothers/sisters of Jesus by hearing the Word of God and doing it, that is, living by it (Lk 8:19-
4. Application to life
We begin a New Year on the feast day of the Motherhood of Mary. It is god to ask how New Year is related to this feast? What is the significance of the connection between Motherhood of Mary and New Year? It is said that the name of the first month of the year, "January" comes from the pagan god of Rome calledJanus. He was a double-
Socrates, the great Greek philosopher said, "An unexamined life is not worth living". As Mary ponderedover the words of the shepherds (that is, God’s word) and the events that took place in her life, we too are invited today to reflect over the events of the past year and compare them with the purpose, vision and mission of our life. Each one of us must have a personal vision or personal dream for ourselves. A vision or dream is a mental image or picture of the ideal we wish to realize in our life time. Of course, as believers, our dream must be formulated in line with God’s plan or purpose for our lives. Some people dream only for their prosperity and selfish needs, forgetting totally about the needs of the world, country and humanity. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam (former President of India) calls it a small dream. He says that a small dream is a ‘crime’. Yes, it is a crime to be concerned about oneself alone and not at all about problems of the world. As believers, is this the purpose for which God has sent us into the world? Actually, he has sent us with a definite purpose to make a small or big contribution for humanity which is God’s owncause.
New Year is the best opportunity to see whether we have done our dream to our satisfaction. If not, as Abdul Kalam says, we need to activate our inner energy to translate our vision into better action in the New Year. As we read newspapers and watch TV, we come to know about some burning problems of the world such as terrorism, genocide, ethnic fights or riots, hunger or poverty, communal (religion-
Mary is our best guide in this sort of soul-
Luke mentions Mary’s role of treasuring things in her heart twice in his gospel (cf. the explanation above) to show that she discovered God’s will both in his Word and in her life’s events. She came to know aboutdivine revelation through the message (words) of the shepherds, and God’s will in the event of finding Jesus in the Temple. She understood the full implications of this event only after the resurrection and Pentecost. She had to go on discovering God’s ways gradually till the end of her life. God speaks to us today also through divine revelation (Word of God and its interpretation) as well as through the personal experiences gained through life’s events. But we need to be attuned to what God says as Mary was. Suppose we are attuned to only what the mass media or misguiding companions say, how can we know what God wants to tell us?
These reflections are sent also through a mobile-
Further, our contemplation on the Word of God and spiritual reflections should overflow in joyful servicelike Mary’s going out "with haste" to minister to her needy relative Elizabeth (1:39). Let us begin this year with a resolve to be more sensitive to the needs of the needy and the suffering humanity like Mary, and be more eager to go out to joyfully serve such people. Do our religious practices and devotion to Mother Mary prompt or motivate us to go out of ourselves in serving the needy and the underprivileged?
5. Response to God's Word
Like Mother Mary, ponder over these questions as you begin a New Year: (1) In my personal conduct what will be my guiding principle in this new year? (2) In my family/ social relationships/ community life what will be my guiding principle? (3) In my workplace what will be my guiding principle? Could I have done better in the past year? How did I spend my time? What good did I do and what did I fail to do? Can I pick up one or two wider issues/ problems/ concerns/ needs of people of my area or of my country and think of what I like to say or do about it in my own little way, at least by a small gesture?? For whom? How? What is my bigger dream for this year? How can I discover God’s plan for my family and its future with Mary’s guidance? Please entrust this New Year, your and your family’s future, the future of the Church, the future of humanity, the future of the entire universe to our Heavenly Mother’s care
6. A prayer
Thank you God for giving us Mary as our best guide in some soul-