January 1, 2022
Luke 2: 16-21
The words of the gospel for today, the feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God that caught my attention are, “Mary treasured all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
The context of those words are at the time of shepherds’ visit to Bethlehem. We are called to consider what Mary had experienced in the previous nine months and what her reflections might have been up until that time. The word “to treasure” in Greek means “to keep safe, to preserve” and the word “reflecting” means “to put together.” In terms of a memory it would imply an acceptance of the remembered experience, never a denial. Mary accepted all. She didn’t live with denial or forgetfulness of her experiences. She kept her preserved memories and put them together in her refection.
On a feast like that of today we are invited to remember with Mary what her experience had been. She had lived through the annunciation of God’s desire for her life and her experience of pregnancy as a very young unwed woman in a culture that would condemn her. She would remember how much she needed to trust and to surrender during those weeks. She would remember with joy her engagement to Joseph only to experience his decision to put her away privately. She knew Joseph’s goodness and his faithfulness to the degrees of God. She knew his sacrifice was as deep as her own.
Pope Francis in his reflections on the decision of Joseph to put Mary away says that Joseph’s sacrifice was as radical as Abraham’s call to sacrifice his son Isaac. Mary treasured what she learned about Joseph and his obedience to God in her pain of losing him for a time. God had gifted her with a spouse whose life was, like her own, oriented toward God and God’s will before all else. After Joseph’s dream they came together again. She knew she could deeply trust him as the months unfolded. Mary’s memory of Elizabeth’s greeting gifted her profoundly. Another deeply faithful woman recognized the profound gift of God in Mary’s life. Mary did not need to explain. She had only to live in peace in Elizabeth’s home being of simple service to her pregnant cousin. She remembered and treasured those months with Elizabeth. As Mary journeyed to Bethlehem, there were experiences and people she met along the way. They would remain part of her treasured memories. She would not forget the simple kindnesses nor the not so simple sufferings she witnessed and experienced. All would be part of her reflection. Bethlehem itself was a painful memory. There was no room in the inn. She would remember walking into the cold stable and the filthy conditions in which she would give birth. She knew in that moment the plight of the poor, of those who have no influence. She would not forget what that was like. It was not long after giving birth that Mary had the visit of the shepherds and found that their amazing experience brought her again to an assurance of God’s presence and care.
Mary’s deep reflective quality of life would continue as her life unfolded. It was only by her acceptance of her ongoing experience and her “putting together” all that she would experience both of joy and unimaginable pain that she continued to live as the women we call “Full of Grace” each time we pray the Hail Mary.
As Sisters of Our Lady, we are invited to imitate her deep reflective quality of life. We are called to embrace our joy and pain, our moments of bliss and our moments of deep suffering. They are all to be “kept safe and preserved” and, at the same time “to be put together” as we use all to come more and more clearly to the understanding of God’s workings and leadings in our lives.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us now.
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 Barbara Metz, SNDdeN