Mary, Mother of God
Number 6, 22-27 X Psalm 67 X Galatians 4, 4-7 X Luke 2, 16-21
January 1, 2016 at Saint Peter the Apostle Parish in Naples, FL.
Of all the feasts of Mary, this is the oldest celebrated by the church long before any of the others, and it is the source of everything we know and believe about this woman so favored and blessed by God. What Luke tells us about her provides a clear look at the response of anyone who becomes aware of God’s action in their lives and conscious of the great privilege it is to bear and give flesh to the Word of God. We come here today because we too are aware of God’s action in our lives; aware of the gifts we have, of the faith we share, and the hope that faith has nurtured in our hearts. Clearly we are favored by God and blessed. We live in this beautiful place, in an earthly garden safer than most from the danger and fears that chase too many of God’s children from their homes and loved ones. We are blessed with another year of life and the time to give thanks for the year that has passed.
As Mary continues now in a concrete way to live her calling as Mother of God’s Son, she does so in the context of her place in time and culture. She passes on to her son the tradition of her Jewish faith, and she fulfills what was asked of her by naming him “Jesus” which means, “One Who Saves”. Already in the circumstance of her birthing, there is a hint that all may not always be well, that homelessness, confusion, and anxiety will be part of life. The first visitors she seems to have are not loving, adoring, caring family members, but strangers from the fields, hired hands who come with no gifts and speak of things she may not understand. It is an odd sort of beginning for this mother who already knows that nothing will be ordinary or normal about her life any more.
Her response to all of this, says Luke, is to ponder. There is no complaint, no refusal, no whining, blaming, or attempts to run. She just ponders. It is the second time she does this in Luke’s Gospel, so it must be important, and it will not be the last because it is the best posture and the best response for anyone confronted with the unexpected Will of God. It will be a life-time of pondering for her, a life-time full of reflective silence during which she treasures the good news about Jesus in spite of messages that are often contrary to what she knows by faith.
For us it must be the same this year if not before; a year of pondering, a year that allows for more time of reflective silence in which we can treasure what we heard, what we have seen, and what we are called to become.