Gospel Reflections

Feast of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God

Luke 2:16-21

Feast Day Reflection by Sister Marie Tighe

Published: January 01, 2016

“Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  So soon after the birth of Mary’s Child, the shepherds come and the angels sing; “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace to men who enjoy his favour.”  For Mary, all these events must have been so unforeseen and startling. As she listened to the shepherd’s story, her heart would have been filled with joy and wonder. Mary would add the treasure that the shepherds brought to the treasures she had cherished in the last nine months.

These treasures began when Gabriel said, “Rejoice so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”  How her heart must have rejoiced when Elizabeth greeted her in the way that she did, affirming the presence of the unborn Saviour within her womb. For Mary, her elderly cousin’s words would have been sheer gift, a veritable treasure. Here was a woman Mary loved and trusted who understood God’s intervention in her life. Perhaps Elizabeth was the first person with whom Mary shared the treasure whom she was pondering in her own heart. Mary’s response to Elizabeth’s greeting was to proclaim her Magnificat, a prayer that we now treasure and ponder in our hearts. 

Today we share Mary’s joy, as with Joseph and the shepherds she contemplates her little Son. All too soon, just six weeks later, Simeon’s words were going to turn her world upside down even though Simeon’s first words were full of joy and wonder as he held the Child. “Now Master you can let your servant go in peace,… for my eyes have seen your salvation; a light to enlighten the pagans and the glory of your people Israel.”  We are told that Mary and Joseph stood there wondering about these words as Simeon spoke about the Child. Then Simeon spoke directly to Mary; devastating words, articulating not the glory that was hers because she was the mother of this Child, but the anguish and pain she would suffer because she was his mother. Reading Luke’s description of this encounter, I am always glad that Anna was there. I like to think that this old woman, full of wisdom, put her arms round Mary, and comforted her. Mary would treasure and ponder Simeon’s words about her Child, as she pondered Isaiah’s utterances about “the suffering servant.”

Thirty-three years later, on Calvary, Simeon’s words to Mary and Isaiah’s words became for her a reality. From the cross Jesus looked down upon his mother and John. He had no material possessions to leave, but voiced his last will and testament to John, and to each one of us. He bestowed on us his most precious legacy when he gave us Mary, our mother. To Mary, he bequeathed the only other treasure left in his heart, each one of us. We are the children she treasures. We are the children on whom she now ponders in her heart.

We all have treasures that we ponder in our hearts, words or psalms; a verse or two of scripture, or maybe a prayer remembered from childhood.

I share this prayer which has been one of my treasures since I was a teenager.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, keep in me the heart of a child, fresh and open, transparent like waters of a pure spring.

Give me...

  • a simple heart, tender and compassionate, loyal and generous;
  • a heart ready to accept its weakness; 
  • a heart unstinting in giving itself, always ready to efface itself in another heart to make room for your Son;
  • a heart which remembers every kindness done to it, and holds no bitterness over injuries.

Obtain for me a meek and humble heart which loves without seeking reward; a noble and indomitable heart, that no ingratitude can wither, and no indifference weary; a heart hungry for the love and glory of Jesus Christ, never to be satisfied until it reaches Heaven. Amen.       (Leonce de Grandmaison, S.J.)

What is your treasure or your prayer that you sometimes ponder?


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