Mary, the Mother of God
Today’s Gospel is basically the same as the Gospel for the Mass at Dawn on Christmas Day. What makes it different is the addition of the mention of the circumcision and the naming of Jesus. That difference is significant because it shifts attention away from the shepherds to Mary (along with Joseph [not by name] and to Jesus [who becomes by that ritual a male member of the community of Israel]).
Although the shepherds gain insight into the presence of God when seeing the Holy Family and would proclaim what they had heard and seen, Mary is the one who kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. For example, I imagine she wondered what the angel meant that her son will be given the throne of his father David. Pretty heady stuff for a teenager from an insignificant. How will that happen? When will it happen? Why was born in Bethlehem and not in Nazareth? What will become of us as a family with such odd events happening to us? By doing so, she becomes a model of contemplation and reflection for all Christians. She inspires us to take the time and space to consider more deeply the significance of the events in our lives rather than go through life without meaning or direction. Consider your spouse; why did you marry that one? Because you felt, why not? Why did I become a priest? Because I had nothing better to do?
On this feast which coincides with our new year, make a resolution to reflect on the events of your life. For example, what has changed in your life, in your family’s life, your way of doing ordinary things this past year? And with what you learned and experienced, how will the new year change your emotions, your relationships, and your prayer life? Will you look forward with hope and dreams or backward with longing for what has been and sadness for what is no more?
Make time to contemplate and reflect.