The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God
Num 6:22-27 + Gal 4:4-7 + Lk 2:16-21
January 1, 2019
… God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law….
We are invited as Christians to imitate Mary, the first and best disciple of Jesus. If we were to imagine the scene in the first part of today’s Gospel passage, we would picture the infant Jesus in the manger, with His mother still lying next to Him, and Saint Joseph standing watch over them both.
The Holy Family had already made the perilous journey to Bethlehem, and when they arrived they found themselves rejected by everyone from whom they sought shelter. Now here were angels and shepherds and kings from the east praising them. It’s no wonder that as Mary rested in the hay she pondered all these things in her heart: complete rejection, and utter acceptance.
If Mary had not been full of grace, she might easily have become cynical at such a young age, seeing how she was only a teenager. Like each of us, Mary was beginning to see how the world treats people: there are ups and there are downs in life. One moment no one seems to give you the time of day, and the next moment everyone is your best friend. You are still the same person as always, but because of some change in fortune or circumstance, people react very differently toward you.
As Mary pondered these things in her heart, she realized that this was going to be the pattern throughout her son’s life: both acceptance and rejection, based merely upon the attitudes of others, and upon the circumstances of the day, month, or year. If others witnessed miracles—whether angels singing in the sky, water turning to wine, or a blind man regaining his sight—they would very likely praise Jesus.
But if following after Jesus meant watching Him being turned out of the synagogue in Galilee where He had grown up, or being mocked by the scribes and Pharisees for trying to teach them something new about God, or being whipped and crowned with thorns after being condemned to a traitor’s death, or even watching Him die that slow death on the cross hanging between two criminals—what would people say about Mary’s son then?
Celebrating this feast of Mary, the holy Mother of God turns our own minds to wondering about how much faith Mary must have had to accept this child as part of her life, realizing what that motherhood would mean to her. For ourselves, as followers of Jesus who today begin a new year, we must ponder this mystery of Christmas: that the birth of God the Son as a human means that following Jesus takes the sort of faith that accepts suffering just as certainly as we accept the joy of being part of God’s family.