The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
Happy New Year to all! What a great way the Church welcomes in the new year – by celebrating Mary, the Mother of God. This title “Mother of God” has created controversy over the centuries. The Greek term “Theotokos” means “Mother of God” or “One who gives birth to God”.
Of course, Mary did not exist before God. She is a human being that was chosen by God to bear Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. She was preserved from sin from her conception (Immaculate Conception). And since Jesus is God, we say that Mary is the Mother of God. In no way does this title mean that Mary is a goddess or greater than God. It simply means that through her great act of faith (FIAT), she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God.
In this Gospel reading today, we hear the story of the shepherds running in haste to visit the child Jesus. The shepherds saw the signs and heard the angels and went in haste. They were drawn to the manger and they went in haste, like Mary went in haste to visit Elizabeth when she conceived Jesus. Recently I heard someone say that shepherds were the first to hear about a new lamb that was born. These shepherds heard about the Lamb of God and went in haste to see Him.
Do we respond quickly to the Lord’s call in our lives?
Are we attentive to the many ways God speaks to us each day (in silent prayer, in dreams, through others, through Scripture, through life experiences, through angels)?
Mary kept all that she had observed and heard and cherished it in her heart. Imagine being Mary… The angel Gabriel announced to her that she would conceive and bear a son – not just any son – but the Son of God. Then the shepherds arrived telling Mary and Joseph about what they had heard from the angels. Mary reflected on each of these experiences and cherished them in her heart. She teaches us what prayer is all about. So often we allow our days to pass by without reflecting on them. We don’t pay attention to how the Lord is speaking to us each day.
Do I take time at the end of the day to reflect on those important “God moments”?
Do I daily cherish God’s love in my heart?
How about this for a New Year’s Resolution?
I wanted to let you know of a “discipleship and evangelization” initiative we have set up for the New Year.
Basically, we have set up a website–http://www.ajoywhichisshared.org/–where people can subscribe to receive bite-sized chunks of Pope Francis’ The Joy of the Gospel. Starting on January 1st, subscribers will receive one paragraph per day of the pope’s apostolic exhortation. The brief “Welcome” post on the website offers a bit more background.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us. Help us to be better disciples of your Son in 2015.