Luke 2: 16-21
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – Sister Tess Rynn
“For today a child is born for us, a son given to us.” Seemingly just that – a child is born. Today’s feast however points us to that other momentous reality — Mary is the mother of this child and Mary is also the Mother of God! God becomes human, but arrives in this world unknown and unrecognised. The uniqueness of this child was to be an ongoing revelation to the world, over the years to come.
On this first day of the year it’s significant that our Gospel is about the visit of the Shepherds, who were still puzzling about how they came to be in this Bethlehem cave. Poverty comes in many forms and the shepherds were certainly the poorest of the poor, but it is Meister Eckhart who says, “letting life happen is true poverty.”
It was this form of poverty which was enforced upon all of us as life spiralled out of control some months ago. A short time previously we had blithely celebrated the ‘New Year’ knowing nothing of what was ‘around the corner’ and totally unaware of the word ‘Covid.’ We had yet to experience the pain of absence, the lack of touch, lack of face to face communication and an inability to visit the sick and the needy. There were cancelled events and unlived memories never to be reclaimed — complete curtailment of all our freedoms. For those of us who experienced bereavement there was the loss of treasured ritual and the absence of friends and family with whom to share a profound grief.
If ‘Covid’ has taught us anything then it must surely be how to live our true poverty – letting life happen. But the question surely is, ‘how do I let life happen?’ Do I fight this reality, or do I embrace it? ‘Now’ is all I have. I can put my energies into thinking about, and planning for when this is all over or I can live these present moments with energy and enthusiasm. “The meaning is in the waiting.” (R. S. Thomas) We hear today of Mary who “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart.” This is true poverty this is contemplative living – being what I am called to be at any given time. When I enter into the present reality I become one with the Divine Presence within. I’m reminded of T. S. Eliot who speaks of “music heard so deeply that it is not heard at all, but you are the music.” For me, this is the music of the soul, when I become one with the Divine Presence within. It is this music of the soul which is our New Year’s gift today and in all the days ahead.
There is always something mystical about new beginnings – a heightened sense of expectation and excitement. Those time honoured words, ‘Happy New Year,’ will be ringing across the world today, but now with a unique significance We know and feel it to be different. Nine months (a significant number, perhaps) into the pandemic we have hopefully learnt some life lessons. We pray that all we have lost will be transformed into new ways ahead – concern for our planet and concern for each other. Every new beginning is never totally that. We move forward with the wisdom of the past. We are on the brink of a ‘new world’ and we have our part to play.
Facing this unknown future, we are not alone. Mary and Joseph fled from Herod, left Bethlehem and became refugees, not knowing what lay ahead. Mary ‘pondered these things in her heart, and listening to the music of her soul she was at one with the Divine within. She is our source of inspiration.
Today as we listen to our own unique music of the soul we have much for which to be grateful, not least the joy and exhilaration of waking up to another new day, another New Year !
If I were to choose a piece of music to lead me into the presence of the Divine, what would it be?
“And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
‘Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.’
And he replied:
‘Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.’ “
M. L. Haskins
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