Sunday Scriptures

Let Mary Be Our Guide

WHAT A WAY to start the new year! As a Church, we are privileged to begin by honoring Mary, the Mother of God, while still basking in the fresh light of Christmas.

We have honored the Christ Child –  and indeed continue to do so – but for a brief moment we turn our gaze to His Mother and ours, while her loving gaze never leaves His precious little body. This is at the heart of the mystery of Mary which we contemplate today.

First and Best Disciple

Often as Catholics we are unfairly accused of idolatry as our love for Mary is misunderstood. She herself would be the first to reject any kind of elevation over the Lord, of Whom she was the first and best disciple. Even though she is His mother, she shows us what it means to be sons and daughters in the Son.

This very notion of sonship is woven through today’s readings. We hear from the Book of Numbers paternal words of blessing that reveal to us a God who is not content with ruling from afar. Our God is no abstract human construct, as some would argue; rather, He is a loving Father, who has revealed Himself in this way from the very first words of Genesis.

In our first reading, He directs Moses to share with Aaron words that convey a father’s love and concern, along with the promise to pour out on them the very thing every human heart desires: our Father’s blessing.

Indeed, we beg for this precisely in today’s responsorial psalm, a theme repeated frequently in Scripture as well as in the story of every human life. So often our personal fears and traumas can be traced back to our fathers or father-figures. Sometimes through no fault of their own, these human men whom God has placed in our lives to protect and guide us fail in this sublime mission.

Steadfast Trust

Today, as we contemplate our Mother, we are reminded that as children of so great a Father, our response to human failure must be one of steadfast love and trust, holding onto her words, echoing through the centuries: “Be it done to me according to your word.”

Mary, representing the hopeful people of Israel, trusted in the perfect Father, and thus helps us to forgive our imperfect ones.

The second reading says it more explicitly: we have received “adoption as sons” and so we can cry out to God, not as slaves begging for reprieve, but as loving children. We follow the very words uttered by Jesus on the cross, and approach God as He wants to be approached, indeed as every good father wants to be approached. We are not His slaves, but have been made heirs by our baptism, in which our very identities were washed clean and renewed, not unlike the earth in the days of Noah.

Dignity and Value

In this New Year, would that we might see ourselves in the new light of this sonship, with Mary as our guide, for she saw herself – with the utmost humility – as a daughter of the King. This entails dignity and value that all too often are stripped away by sin and shame. May we reclaim our identities as children of the Most High God, and reflect His light to a darkened world.

This sleeping world was stirred awake as the shepherds moved in haste. Much like the Apostles did three decades later, they “made known the message that had been told them about this child.”

People were amazed at their words, not only because of the subject matter, but the speakers as well. We modern apostles can be tempted to think we need the right words or arguments, when in reality, the best argument is holiness itself.

When we witness God’s fatherly love, we are changed, and every word becomes a good argument because it is touched by the inner experience of grace. It is filtered, like light through a clean camera lens, and clearly reveals that little Child who changed everything.

Before a word ever passes our lips however, we are to imitate Mary, who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

People of Contemplation

We are to be a people of contemplation, who in the silence and stillness of the manger allow the grace that emanates from His body to permeate every fiber of our being. In Eucharistic adoration we do precisely this. We soak up the radiant Light that came into this dark world.

Even though His own did not accept Him, we – like Mary – can be set ablaze by His holy fire, which purifies and refines, destroying only that which is foreign to His love.

May we never give anyone cause to accuse us of idolatry. Rather, at Mary’s side we approach the supreme Godhead together, as loving children.

Come, let us adore Him.


Readings for the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God       

Numbers 6: 22-27

Psalm 67: 2-3, 5, 6, 8

Galatians 4: 4-7

Luke 2: 16-21


 

Father James Rodriguez is the associate vocation director for the diocese and teaches at Cathedral Prep and Seminary, Elmhurst.

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