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 Camilla Burns
Camilla Burns, SNDdeN is a Professor at Trinity Washington University. Prior to that she taught at Liverpool Hope University. Read More…
The feast of the Solemnity of Mary the Holy Mother of God is the oldest Marian feast tracing its roots back to the Council of Ephesus in 431. Mary’s divine motherhood broadens the Christmas spotlight by her consent to God’s invitation (Lk 1:26-28) which realizes the Incarnation. It is especially fitting as Sisters of Notre Dame that we make a special claim to this feast. “Julie named her Congregation the Sisters of Notre Dame as an expression of her love for Mary…” (Constitutions #8). We start the year, as we started our physical life and life in the Congregation under the protection of a mother.
Luke’s Gospel has a thoroughly public character to its narrative. In his speech before Agrippa, Paul ends the story of his life with the comment “None of this happened in a corner” (Acts 26:26). News of wonders spreads quickly throughout the Gospel (Lk 2:17-18). Jesus’ ministry is carried out before all the people (Acts 2:22).
In addition to the public character of the narrative, Luke breaks barriers from the very beginning of his account. “The shepherds went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger” (Lk 2:16). Shepherds were among the lowest-esteemed laborers, the poorest of the poor. Yet, their lowly work may well have been a great asset since they knew the location of the manger or perhaps even owners of the stall. They rushed there to see the family of homeless transients.
In the outward appearance of a migrant family, the shepherds discovered one of their own, the “son of David” who was in the tradition the shepherd of the flock of Israel (1Sam 16:11) and his messianic successor. “I will give you shepherds after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding” (Jer 3:15). God’s fidelity is worked out in human events even when appearances seem to deny his presence or power.
Like the shepherds let us go “with haste” to this feast and return “glorifying and praising God for all we have heard and seen.” The shepherds also “made known what had been told them about the child” and our commitment is to continue to herald the good news in our own corner of the world through our rich tapestry of ministries.
In the meantime, Mary pondered these words in her heart. The Greek for ponder is symballein which is to throw or toss together. Like Mary, we need to “toss together” the many disparate events in our life and “try to hit upon their right meaning.” It is a great challenge.
Finally, we could take heed of Meister Eckhardt’s suggestion that Mary through her motherhood demonstrates how literally we can all give birth to God. Mary found favor with God and this is a day to celebrate God’s favor in ourselves.