Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year Lived as Mary Lived

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Mary.

Mary was about 14 or 15 when she became the Mother of God! It was typical in her day and culture for young ladies to marry in their early or mid teens, though the child born of her was conceived, not via man, but via the power of the  third person of the Blessed Trinity, the  Holy Spirit, "for nothing is impossible for God" (Luke 1: 37), as Mary said to the messenger of God when she uttered her "yes" to being chosen to bring Jesus into existence as a human being, as the Incarnated God made man.

A teen mother! A holy mother! A mother whom the angel Gabriel greeted with the words: "Rejoice so highly favored. The Lord is with you" (Luke 1: 29).   The Lord was with her first in the womb and then throughout her life to the point when she stood beneath the cross of her dying Son, when she witnessed the resurrection of her Son from the dead, and then in the Eucharist given to her and us at the Last Supper when Jesus blessed the bread and "gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body which will be given for you; do this as a memorial of me.' He did the same with the cup [of wine] after the supper, and said, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood which will be poured out for you.'" Jesus, as Mary knew and pondered, is the Lamb of God sacrificed once and for all for the sins of the world,  a sacrifice that does not need to be repeated as was the sacrifice of lambs in the Old Covenant. Jesus died once and for all and Mary was there saying "yes" to God's plan of salvation, yours and mine.

Throughout her life, Mary pondered the mysteries surrounding Jesus' birth and her virginal motherhood, the flight into Egypt and return to Galilee, Jesus' childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, His meeting with top theologians of His day in the Temple at age 12 and baffling them with His Wisdom,  His ministry and teachings, and His sufferings, death and resurrection; and the sending of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost, that is, the birthday of the Church that was begun on that date and continues throughout the centuries to this very day!  Mary is "the Church," a sign of the presence of God in our midst, a woman full of grace and a vehicle of grace for all, as is the Church itself.

With Mary, may we grow in the fullness of grace by staying close to Jesus, living a life of faith, hope and love and thus pondering the mysteries of God being revealed in all of the events and relationships of our lives and in all of creation; in the particulars of health and sickness, successes and failures,  moments of peace and unrest, good times and"bad", joy and sadness, ecstasy and love.

With Mary,  may we, in all that 2018 offers, ponder the mysteries of God in our lives, saying in faith: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Savior; because he has looked upon his lowly handmaid [servant]" (Luke 1:46).

Happy New Year!

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