Friday, January 1, 2010

Mary Kept All These Things, Reflecting On Them In Her Heart

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Reading 1              Numbers 6:22-27
The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon you,
and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly
and give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Responsorial         Psalm 67
May God bless us in his mercy.

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
May God bless us in his mercy.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
May God bless us in his mercy.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
May God bless us in his mercy.

Reading II       Galatians 4:4-7
Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.

Gospel                  Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem
and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
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.

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Today’s First Reading, taken from the Book of Numbers, is the blessing given to the high priest Aaron by God through Moses. It is a wonderful way to begin the calendar year. Even today, Jewish fathers repeat the words of Aaron’s blessing over their children at all three New Year celebrations: in the spring, the beginning of the year of nature; in the fall, the beginning the liturgical year, and on January 1, the day on which the civil calendar starts in most countries in the world.

After the reader has proclaimed Aaron’s blessing, we hearken to the Responsorial Psalm, which asks God for his mercy when we stray, for his providence at all times, for peace among nations, and for the reign of God to extend to every corner of the earth. Four times, at the beginning and end of each verse, we join in the response: May God bless us in his mercy.

In today’s Second Reading, taken from Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we are awed by how marvelously God has fulfilled his promise of blessing to his people given first to Abraham, then to Moses, by sending his Son, “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law”. It is not as slaves, bound under the law, but as adopted sons and daughters, freed from slavery to sin, that we cry out, “Abba! Father!” We inherit our bodies from our earliest ancestors, the first man and woman on earth, whom the scripture calls Adam and Eve. But we have acquired by adoption the same spirit as Jesus, the Holy Spirit who has set us free. So we are no longer slaves but sons and daughters, and if the children of God, we are heirs of the Kingdom.

Today’s Gospel echoes that of the Christmas Mass at dawn. After they received the “glad tidings of great joy” and heard the angelic hymn, the shepherds went to Bethlehem, to see for themselves what the Lord had made known to them. Furthermore (and this is the reason this feast, which used to be called “the Circumcision of Jesus”, is now called “the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God”) we are invited into the inner life of Mary, who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary is born to be Mother. The supreme consolation that Our Lady receives at the cross of her Son is the assurance that her vocation as Mother does not end with Christ’s death. The Lord commands the world, “Behold your Mother!” The resurrection begins for Mary – and for us – with these words. The Blessed Virgin’s womb remains forever fruitful. Mary leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to his Mother, for without Mary’s maternity, Jesus would become a mere abstraction for us. The Lord wills to “let his face shine upon” us through the face of the Mother of God. We “serve a Mother who seems to grow more beautiful as new generations rise up and call her blessed.” (G.K. Chesterton).


Anonymous said...

Beautiful-Thank you Father! May you have a blessed new year! +4thlamb

Lindsay Rae said...

which work is the GK Chesterton quote from? I would love to read it in its entirety!

Fr. John L. Sullivan said...

The Chesterton quote is from "The Everlasting Man".