Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

As a country, and perhaps as a world, we heave a collective sigh that the painful year pounded by pandemic, protest and political partition is at last behind us. The new year shines before us like the star that led shepherd and king alike to a manger in Bethlehem wherein lay a newborn infant. Not just any newborn infant, of course, but one who showed the world the face of God. One who embodied the Lord’s blessing imparted to Moses: the Lord let his face shine upon you.

Still, even Mary his mother, who knew that she had conceived this child through the Holy Spirit, reflected in her heart on the message of the angel imparted by the shepherds, not yet understanding who her baby really was. How could she, really, when she looked upon this most vulnerable of humanity, weak and helpless, utterly unable to survive without great care and protection? How could she look upon the wrinkled face of her sweet little baby who could do no more than accept her nurture and love and see God?

She would come to understand who her son really was. She would become his first and most devoted disciple. But that would take time. And a great deal of pondering. When she did understand, she knew what St. Paul told the Galatians, that because of him we are no longer slaves to selfishness but children of compassion through God. We are heirs to all that is God, and as heirs we carry on all that God began, manifested to the world in God’s own self.

Her son would offer the peace God directed Moses to bless the Israelites with, shalom. Rather than the absence of conflict, shalom brings wholeness and well-being, prosperity and happiness. Because, actually, the peace offered by God sometimes demands conflict so that all can know its blessing. As we enter into a new year, may we look upon the most vulnerable of humanity, the weak and the helpless, and see the face of God.

And as God’s face shines upon us, may we be galvanized to share God’s peace with them and with the world. May we with the haste of the shepherds guided by the star give glory and praise to God by acting as God’s true heirs, bringing God’s message of wholeness for all of God’s creation. The new year shines like the Star of Bethlehem before us. Let it lead us to the face of God. Nm 6:22-27; Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2:16-21