HOMILY FOR THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Readings: Num. 6:22-27/Gal/ 4:4-7
Gospel: Lk/ 2:16-21
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” The important moments that we have in our lives are usually kept in our mind. We remember all the good times that bring us joy, the bad times that give us sorrow, and the accomplishments that give us glory. We use these moments to help us in our lives as we continue to be Children of God. But of all those moments that we keep in our minds, the greatest of all of these moments-the ones that change our lives-are the ones that are kept in our hearts.
The moments that we keep in our hearts are the ones that we recall in stories, poems and songs. They are the moments that are recalled with friends and family throughout all generations. In the Gospel proclaimed today, the reflections that Mary kept in her heart was not only for her or Joseph her husband, or for the Christ child, but for the entire world. The Scripture today only spoke about the miracle of the Incarnation. Yet it was just the focal point of a greater reflection.
This is a reflection that we recall during our private meditation of the Joyful Mysteries of the Holy Rosary. It begins at the Annunciation, where “The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary; and she was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” The angel said that she was full of grace, and the Lord was with her. Mary responded that she is the Handmaid of the Lord; let it be done according to His will. It continues during the Visitation of her cousin Elizabeth. The child inside Elizabeth’s womb leapt for joy knowing that their Savior had come to them. She told Mary that she is blessed among women, and blessed also is the fruit of her womb. Mary responded by saying that her soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; that her spirit “rejoices in God our Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.” And then the moment arrived: The Nativity of the Lord; when “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” The angels in heaven showed themselves to shepherds on a hill proclaiming “Glory to God in the highest.” When the Angels left them, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to find the Christ Child lying in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. When eight days had passed, Joseph and Mary presented him in the Temple to give him the name Jesus; the name given to Mary at the Annunciation.
When moments like these are reflected in one’s heart, it can cause one to reflect back to those moments that led up to this point. For Mary and Joseph, the blessings that they received would harken back to the blessings they received over the years in the Synagogue. That blessing, the one we heard about in the First Reading today (from the Book of Numbers), was also given to them by God. God spoke to Moses and told him that the descendants of Aaron shall bless the people with the words. “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” Whenever we see a baby, don’t we feel a little bit blessed by looking upon them? Don’t we feel better whenever their little face smiles back at us? When we hold the child, don’t we appreciate the trust that child has for us that we will care for them just for that little moment; that moment where the both of you are at peace with one another? This same feeling must have come over Mary and Joseph on that first night in the stable at Bethlehem. It is that same sense of peace when God shows his mercy upon us. This is what the psalmist wrote when he asked for God to bless us in his mercy. For it is when God shows his mercy and gives us a blessing and we truly understand the meaning of peace.
That sense of peace comes to us whenever we feel the love that a family can give. These past few weeks we have been a part of many events that give us the image of what a family is to resemble. Paul’s letter to the Galatians illustrates the difference between being part of a family or not. Those who are not of a family do their work FOR someone. They received no benefit for their work, other than the compensation agreed upon prior to starting the job. Those who are part of the family, do their work WITH someone that will benefit each other in both the short-term and the long-term.
Because of the Nativity, we stopped being workers of God and became Children of God. And as such, we have become heirs to the Kingdom of God. As Paul mentioned, Jesus came to earth to ransom those who were subject under the law so they may receive adoption as Children of God. Because of this adoption, we can finally cry out to God and call him “Father!” Blessings come in all shapes and sizes, but that does not mean one blessing greater than another; especially when these blessings come to us from God.
The things that are held in one’s heart are the things that cannot be held only in our minds. While we remember a moment in time, it is our hearts that recalls the feelings and emotions that went along with that memory. Although our mind can remember or forget certain things in our lives, it is from the heart that keeps the emotions from going away. Our minds keep the facts but the heart understands the faith. The heart is a sort of “protective archives” that will keep the memories always with us even after our minds fail us.
Just as Mary kept all these things in her heart, the things that are kept in our hearts have just as much meaning for us. And yet there is a common thread within all these remembrances: that knowing, loving and living with God as his child is the greatest reflection we can have. And when that reflection is shown outward instead of being kept inward, that is the moment when the world will be truly at peace.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL THAT YOU DO THIS WEEK
Questions for Reflection:
- What are some of the things that you reflect upon in your heart?
- What would be your reaction if you just had a child and strangers came into your room?
- Do you feel you are an heir to the Kingdom of God? Why or why not?