January 1, Mary, Mother of God, Cycle C-2019
READING I Numbers 6:22-27
The Lord said to Moses: “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: 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! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
READING II Galatians 4:4-7
When the designated time had come, God sent forth his Son born of a woman, born under the law, to deliver from the law those who were subjected to it, so that we might receive our status as adopted sons. The proof that you are sons is the fact that God has sent forth into our hearts the spirit of his Son which cries out “Abba!” (“Father!”). You are no longer a slave but a son! And the fact that you are a son makes you an heir, by God’s design.
GOSPEL Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger; once they saw, they understood what had been told them concerning this child. All who heard of it were astonished at the report given them by the shepherds. Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, in accord with what had been told them. When the eighth day arrived for his circumcision, the name Jesus was given the child, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived.
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is our Mother and Mother of the Church. There are wonderful gifts of grace to be received through praying to Mary. What a treasured gift it is to receive the grace to grow intimate with Our Lord through the eyes of His Mother. Mary leads us to Jesus, over and over. Mary points us to the mystery of God at work in creation and in our lives. Mary guides us as a Mother does, holding our hands, but always taking us to Jesus and His Father by the power of the Holy Spirit.
The Book of Numbers memorializes the Aaronic Blessing. What treasure for our ancestors is to be found in that blessing! In the current age treasure is defined as a concentration of wealth — often those that originate from ancient history — that is considered lost and/or forgotten until rediscovered. In a way, our ancestors in the faith had lost the wealth of their faith, of the covenants with Abraham and Noah. God mouths through Moses that He is still their God, and they are His people. How difficult would it be for a mere human to hide such a treasure, a glorious secret told to you by the Creator of the universe! As if the words are not enough, God sends the perfect messenger.
The Letter to the Galatians proclaims that God the Father sent His Son to be born of a woman so that we also might be adopted into His divinity. We have transitioned from slaves to stewards to sons. We are not slaves of God but rather heirs of God. What could that possibly mean? It means that God is a God who loves us and who wants us, with our full freedom, to choose to live His life. It is as if a loving, close, and generous uncle has won the lottery worth billions of dollars. Not that you would want to strip him from his winnings, but would you not feel some happiness and joy that his good fortune is also your good fortune? Here, too, referring back to Galatians, is treasure: the knowledge that we are heirs to a fortune, namely salvation, or union with God.
The Gospel of Saint Luke records the early life of Jesus. Mary ponders in her heart the manifold blessings she has received from God the Father and the awesome nature of God in the flesh. Mary shows us again the love of a Mother who loves and who seeks to understand her child. The mysteries of Jesus’ birth and the miraculous events surrounding His birth. She did not need to boast, or swell up with pride – for it was not her, but her God’s doing. She could, however, revel in the majesty of God the Father and the wonderment of His son whom she birthed. She had treasure in the humanity of Jesus and that His name tells us that He comes to save us.
As we begin this New Year, let us call on Mary, our Mother, to watch over us. May she help us learn how to ponder, and treasure, all that happens in our hearts so that we may always respond by faith. May the humanity of Jesus encourage us to walk in His ways.