Today is the great solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. We celebrate and honor Mary as God’s mother, and our mother. The Gospel, from Luke 2:16-21, speaks of the shepherds hurrying to find the infant lying in a manger, whose birth the angels announced to them. They found Mary and Joseph, and the Christ child swaddled and lying in a manger, just as the angels had told them. In their excitement, they spoke about what had happened, and the Gospel said people were amazed. I pondered this word “amazed” and how in awe they must have been after their experience. In our modern age of special effects, entertainment, Google, and almost everything at our fingertips, I tried to recall when was the last time I was truly “amazed” at something. What these days even causes me to feel wonder and awe? Honestly, not much. It says also that Mary “pondered” all these things in her heart. This idea of pondering is speaking so deeply to my heart right now – this I feel is the call that I am receiving for 2017. God wants me to take more time to ponder His word, and to do so with my family. He calls us, day by day, to read the Scriptures, reflect on them, ponder them, and be amazed. We need to — like the shepherds — listen to the Word of God, respond with haste, let it lead us closer to Jesus, and then be amazed! I want to feel this! I want to be in awe at God’s immense love. Because only then, after encountering and knowing His love for me, can I even begin to bring it to others.
What happened to the shepherds after this experience? It says that they returned, glorifying God. They did not have the benefit of knowing Christ’s whole story and having 2000 years of theology laid out before them as we do today. But what they did know, was that God sent angels to them – to them! – to announce the birth of His Son. They went with haste, and they found Him, encountered the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and left with hope, joy and the knowledge that God was present and acting in the world, and in their lives. Would this not be a life-changing event? I would hope so. The amazing thing is that this event was not just for them. The angels made that announcement for all people of good will, as they said. We only need to respond, as the shepherds did.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
See the full text of Pope Francis’ beautiful homily for the Solemnity of the Mother of God.