Read Luke 2:16-21
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. Read More…
Meet Sister Mary Cluderay
Sister Mary was born in Leeds in 1930, the seventh child in a family of eight. Read More…
Pope Francis has spoken frequently about the title “Mary, Mother of God,” and in a recent homily he uses these words: “As Jesus speaks from the Cross to his Mother Mary and to his beloved disciple: ‘Mother, behold thy son, son, behold thy mother,’ Jesus is giving his mother to us. Her motherhood of God is contagious and from it comes a second motherhood - that of the Church. From this we realise that the Church is not a rigid association without warmth but an attitude of welcome, understanding, goodness, forgiveness and tenderness.”
Other writers speak of the fact that it is at the darkest moment of the life of Jesus that Mary becomes the new Eve, the Mother of all who live by faith. So as we celebrate in this Christmas Octave, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, we can reflect on all that has taken place in the life of Mary from the moment of the Annunciation when she hears the words, “The Lord is with you” and receives her vocation: “You are to conceive and bear a son and you must name him Jesus.”
In today’s Gospel we see Jesus lying in the manger receiving his first visitors, the Shepherds. No wonder then that “Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
We can only marvel and wonder at the ineffable beauty of this scene and we, too, must ponder as Mary did our whole lives through so that we too can know that “the Lord is with us,” calling us to imitate Mary’s willingness to follow in faith as God unfolded each event of her life as he will with each one of His creation.
From these reflections we realise that the narrative of to-day’s Feast is an assurance that this Power of God will overshadow Mary all through her life. In every moment God will hold her in union. She is in partnership with God in hope at all times as she accepts the will of God. She brings God to birth. Here lies the essence of the words, “You are to conceive and bear Jesus.” Who can know or describe this union of Mother and Son? Her role as mother is to nurture Jesus in every way from the swaddling clothes to growth, to self-awareness, to thinking, praying, choosing. Gabriel seems to say she has the skills: “Hail full of grace; the Lord is with You.” Do we understand the full significance of that word “with”? We see the timelessness of this scene. From all eternity God’s plan has been present - all the words and pictures have been forever in God’s heart. This time, Mary, the new Eve, is ready to absorb and make real the full extent of God’s desire. Together Mary and Jesus present to us the reality of the Incarnation.
Mary is a poor woman of Nazareth focussed entirely on God, devoid of any self regard. At the foot of the Cross she receives her second Motherhood and becomes the mother of all mankind. God reveals the continuation of his plan for each person whom he has called into being. The Holy Spirit will come to each one as Jesus promised: “I will not leave you orphans; the Holy Spirit will come upon you and will teach you all things.” It is at this point that Mary’s vocation extends to us all.
At Pentecost Mary is with the disciples in the upper room and she walks along with us encouraging us, leading us to become partners of God. All believers are called to receive the Holy Spirit as Mary was and to be bearers of God. We too have been given the means - they are all within us. It is our fidelity which counts. Mary will accompany us with the certainty and completeness only she can give because she has already achieved this.
Our Lady of Walsingham Prayer. “May thy Son grant us that imitating thy most holy manners we may conceive the Lord Jesus in our inmost soul and once conceived never to lose Him.”