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1-1-2017 Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Mar 1, 2017


Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God / A / 2017

Msgr. Patrick S. Brennan

Happy New Year! Today is also the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. My new year reflection is going to focus on three important words found in our Gospel—three important words for our spiritual lives this New Year’s Day: haste, astonished, and treasured. Let’s take a look. Luke tells us that the “shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.” The shepherds went in haste after the angel had spoken to them, to find what God had made known to them: that the Messiah had been born. Luke used the words “in haste” a few verses earlier, when the Angel Gabriel had invited Mary to become the mother of God. When she said “yes,” she went “in haste” to her cousin Elizabeth. The Visitation. The message is clear, and we find it in all the great Bible stories: once we know what God wants us to do, we must act immediately. Vision always leads to action. One of the tragedies of the spiritual life is to know what God wants of us, what God wants us to do, and we dawdle. We procrastinate. We put it off. But not Mary, and not the shepherds. They hear God’s call and immediately act on it. I think it is fair to say that all of us know what God wants of us—the vocation of the Christian is to make God’s love incarnate in the world. But each of us will find our own way to do it, whether married or single, in whatever profession we find ourselves. Now is the time to act, in haste, to waste no more time—to live out our call. The second important word for our spiritual life is astonished. When the shepherds told what they had heard from the angels, “all who heard the message were astonished.” We call Christianity a “revealed religion”—that God speaks to us, reveals himself to us, performs might deeds for us. And the result is astonishment—that God breaks into our world, that eternity breaks into time, that the divine becomes human. And so Christmas is astonishing—we know this from a young age: the Incarnation is astonishing. God has taken human flesh, God has become one with us, God is born of a virgin in a poor stable in Bethlehem. The wonder of it all astonishes us! Astonishment is really at the heart of evangelization. If our faith does not astonish us—if our faith is just another movement, another philosophy, another cult—it will die on the vine. But Christianity is astonishing, that God “pitched his tent among us,” that God loves us unconditionally, that God offers us eternal life. Too good to be true? Yes, astonishing! And the third important word—following upon haste and astonishment—is treasure: “And Mary treasured all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Our translation says “kept all these things,” but the Greek word is richer. It means to “turn over and over,” and “to put together” in order to draw a deeper sense and meaning. Sometimes we call Mary the first theologian, because “treasuring” and “examining over and over” and “putting things together” in the heart of the Church is what a theologian does. And all of us need to be a bit of a theologian—to let the Christmas mysteries dwell deeply within us, to meditate upon them, and to let them bear fruit in our lives. So, know your mission and act in haste; be astonished at what God has done for us; and never stop treasuring the mystery that “the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us.”


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