Solemnity – Mary Mother of God – Sister Tess Rynn, SNDdeN

Dec 29, 2023 | Gospel Reflections

January 1, 2024

Luke 2: 16-21

I suspect that Mary could have had very little idea that her ‘yes’ of the ‘Annunciation would lead to a Bethlehem stable and a visit from shepherds, on the night she became, ‘Mother of God.’ These unexpected first visitors were the poorest of the poor, led, seemingly, by some strange angelic message, as they were tending their sheep. Yet once again we are invited to reflect on what poverty has to tell us about our lives at this particular time.

Today poverty is certainly reflected in its most horrendous ways across our broken world. We see war-torn areas where peoples have lost literally everything – homes, families and entire countries — people stripped of their humanity in the numerous forms of deprivation and persecution. Maybe I am not called to experience such extremes, but standing in that sacred space on the threshold of a New Year is perhaps an invitation to explore the implications of true poverty in my own life. I am invited to reflect upon who I really am before God, without all the trappings and baggage of my daily life – to be known as only God can know me.

This invitation gives me options. I’m reminded of the pilgrims in the poem ‘Trasna.’ Trasna means the ‘crossing place,’ the place where I can look back and be tempted to stay in that reality, or I can move forward to a deeper relationship with the God of mystery, the God of the unknown. So, do I choose to remain in old familiar ways, safe and comfortable or do I trust in that presence deep within which moves me to go where I have never gone before? In a sense, every moment is a ‘trasna’ moment, as I allow God to lead me deeper and deeper into the eternal mystery of love and longing. Sometimes I think we look outside ourselves to find guidance, help and encouragement, but the reality is that I already have within me all that I need, to become that person I am called to be. ‘We are God’s work of art.’ (Ephesians 2:10) My life’s work is to really believe that — to strip away the layers of falsehood, to stop the struggle, to let God be God, to become poor before my God and then, able to respond.

From the ashes of my poverty springs new hope. Hope, which tends to be defined as looking towards a better future, but which can only realistically be about the present. Mary lived her life constantly united with her God. We are told she ‘pondered these things in her heart’ and herein lies her strength, her peace and her joy. She teaches me also to constantly ‘ponder these things in my own heart, so that my life is a constant expression of the goodness of God.
Mary, Mother of God and my Mother walk with me.

How do I feel as I stand at ‘Trasna’ the ‘crossing place?’

“…..Go back if you must,
You will find your way easily by yesterday’s fires.”

“…… search your heart’s yearnings:
What am I seeking? What is my quest?”

Choose !



Luke 2: 16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

The Gospel of the Lord



Meet Sister Tess Rynn, SNDdeN

Sister Theresa (Tess) Rynn was born in Lancashire, England, the fifth of six children. She entered the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, in Ashdown in 1956. She was a Primary School Head Teacher for some years and then moved into local leadership in the British Province, with particular care for the sick and elderly. Alongside this she was involved for many years on the Formation Team in the Province, working with the newer members of the Congregation. A time as Moderator in the Generalate in Rome, was followed by some years as Novice Director, after which she returned to local leadership for a time. She worked in School and Hospital Chaplaincy, and Child and Adult Hospices. In recent years she has served as Moderator of the Parbold Community and presently continues to be involved in Spiritual Direction and Retreat work.