The shepherds came hurriedly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby lying in the manger. On seeing this they related what they had been told about the child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds. As for Mary, she treasured all these messages and continually pondered over them. The shepherds then returned giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them. On the eighth day the circumcision of the baby had to be performed; he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
We begin our year with the motherhood of Mary, the mother of God. By proposing this feast, right from the very first day of the year, the Church proposes to each and every Christian the need to be formed in the maternal school of Mary, just like Jesus. It’s here we will be formed so that we may be able to have a perfect configuration in Christ. Today let us look at the gospel to understand certain Marian elements which can be very much practical for our daily life, particularly for this New Year.
We have seen the hurriedness of Mary, which the shepherds re-enact for our better understanding. They moved immediately, just like Mary who rushed up to reach to the house of Elizabeth. Post-ponding will do no good, neither to our personal life, not for our spiritual life. Everything has its own time and they have to be done in time.
The send part of the message is the capacity to witness and share. They all share what they have seen and lived. Mary is the living witness of the divine accomplishment. People should know by our lives that we are believers, who are faithful to the commandment of love. The Christian faith is synonym with the life witnessing. In every witnessing moment is a moment of joy and contentment. Mary, Elizabeth, John Baptist, Zachariah, all were happy when the visitation was happening. Today too, we feel this joy in a deeper level. This joy, when share with others, it get multiplied.
Mary and Joseph, just like anyone else do what is expected of them by the society. They follow the traditions of the society. There is however a great difference. This following has its foundation, not in the human laws and desires, rather what is being asked by the Lord. Fully coherent with the divine will. This divine will takes the prominence in all their executions and actions.
In all these events, and witnessing moments, we find that everyone give glory to God. Thus we should give lots of attention in our daily life, to what we say and what we do. Everything should help people to give glory to God. That God should be glorified in everything.
The most important for the daily application is the inner disposition of Mary in all these events. The gospel says that she kept everything in her heart and contemplated. The inner silence and our capacity to contemplate is the essential part of our faith pilgrimage, particularly when we don’t understand. It is in this contemplation that we can understand the divine mysteries, the Incarnation.
I wish you all a grace filled year with divine benedictions.
«The shepherds came hurriedly and found Mary and Joseph with the baby lying in the manger»
Fr. Manel VALLS i Serra
Today, the Church gratefully reflects on the Virgin's maternity as a model of her own motherhood of all of us. Luke offers the “meeting” of the shepherds and the Boy, who is with Mary —His mother— and with Joseph. Joseph's discreet presence reflects his important mission as guardian of the great mystery of the Son of God. All together, shepherds, Mary and Joseph, «with the baby lying in the manger» (Lk 2:16) form a beautiful image of the Church in adoration.
“The manger”: Jesus is placed there as a veiled reference to the Eucharist. It was Mary who put Him there! Luke speaks of an “encounter”, of a meeting between the shepherds and Jesus. Faith does not materialize without the personal experience of an encounter with the Lord. Only that meeting, which has brought with it “seeing”, and in a way “touching”, allows the shepherds to become witnesses of the Good News, true evangelists who can «relate what they had been told about the child» (Lk 2:17).
A first fruit of the “encounter” is pointed out for us here: «and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds» (Lk 2:18). We need to ask for the grace of being able to arouse that fascination, that admiration in those to with whom we talk about the Gospel.
There is still a second fruit of this encounter: «The shepherds then returned giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen» (Lk 2:20). The adoration of the Child fills their hearts with enthusiasm for communicating what they have seen and felt, and the communication of what they have seen leads them to prayer and thanksgiving, to the glorification of the Lord.
Maria, example of contemplation —«she treasured all these messages and continually pondered over them» (Lk 2:19)— gave us Jesus, whose name means “God Saves”. His name is our Peace too. Let's accept his holy and sweet Name in our hearts and have it on our lips often!