Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Galatians 4:4-7; Hebrews 1:1-2; Luke 2:16-21
We return again to Bethlehem and the visit of the shepherds to meet their Savior. While much of the reading focuses on the shepherds, what they saw and said, today’s feast directs us to Mary, providing Pau’s only reference to her and a helpful image of her from Luke’s Gospel. In his most fiery letter, Paul notes that “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law…” On this feast celebrating Mary as the mother of God, Paul’s words provide the earliest designation of her as mother of God’s Son. God not only lowered himself to our human estate; he made himself, for a short time, subservient to Mary, his human mother. If Christ made himself subservient to Mary, how much more so should we be obedient to her as well?
Luke gives us a prayerful perspective on Mary, presenting her as the woman who ponders, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She is a fitting example to imitate as a new year begins. She invites us to ponder and reflect on who Christ is for us and for our world. We live in such a non-stop, 24/7, busy-busy-busy world. Mother Mary calls us to sit down beside her and ponder the mystery of the Father sending his Son into the world to give us life.
What does Mary invite you to ponder? When we serve her and follow her example, then we will begin to imitate Jesus Christ. It is then that we will grow stronger in our faith.
Sirach 3:2-6, 12-14; Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5 (R/. cf. 1); Colossians 3:12-21 or 3:12-17; Colossians 3:15a, 16a; Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23
Today we are invited to focus on the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. One may think being holy is being free from problems, but God’ Son was born into a dangerous world. From the beginning, Jesus was seen as a threat. Herod was a royal thug intent on removing anyone who threatened him, but Joseph acted to protect the child from the king’s murderous rage. A reciprocal regard holds a family together.
Sirach focuses on the honor and respect that children owe their parents. Colossians urges parents not to discourage their children. Furthermore, husbands and wives are to honor one another. Calling wives “subordinate” is unfortunate vocabulary in many cultures today, given the frequency o spousal abuse, but urging husbands to “love their wives and avoid any bitterness toward them” helps restore a mutual regard.
All relationships are to be transformed in Christ to bring His presence into the word. This transformation happens when we are “swaddled” in compassion, humility, gentleness, patience, forgiveness, and above all, love. It is through this transformation that the grace of the Incarnation becomes enfleshed in the family and every family becomes holy.
What do you think makes a family holy?
Zechariah 2:14-17 or Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Judith 13:18bcde, 19 (R/. 15:9d); Luke 1:39-47
A few days after celebrating Mary’s Immaculate Conception, we honor her as Our Lady of Guadalupe. The feast of Mary’s being conceived without sin can seem to separate her from us as the sinless one, but today reminds us that this privilege only served to make her close to us. Because she was the mother of Jesus, she is now mother to all God’s children, especially the poor and most abandoned.
When Mary appeared to a poor native convert, Juan Diego, she asked him to go to the bishop and tell him that she wished a chapel be built to which all peoples would come to worship, rich and poor, learned and unlearned, the mighty and the lowly – and know each other as God’s children. She is truly the mother of the Church, of God’s pilgrim people. The Gospel presents Mary’s great song of joy, praising God not only for what God has done for her, having looked with favor on her, but for also what God will do through Jesus: lift up the lowly, cast down the mighty from their thrones, fill the hungry with good things.
What does Mary want to bring together in our day?
Genesis 3:9-15, 20; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; Ephesians 1:3-6, 11-12; cf. Luke 1:28; Luke 1:26-38
God’s word gives us two vivid images of the relationship we can have with God. A shadow has fallen over Eden with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, their no to God’s command. After Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit that the serpent promised would make them like God, knowing good and evil, all they discovered was that they were naked. They had broken not their bond with God but with each other and with creation. Notice how mutual blame and suspicion have entered the world. Soon they will be barred from Paradise.
With Mary’s yes, a new day has dawned. The communion with God that was lost has been reestablished. Mary’s consenting word built a bridge over the divide when she answered the Angel Gabriel, “Be it done to me according to your word.” Today’s feast celebrates the gift of intimacy that Mary shared with God since the moment of her conception. It also signals to us that God wishes to bless us with every blessing in the heavens, for God has chosen us in Christ.
How can you respond to God’s invitation to deeper intimacy?
Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab; Psalm 45:10, 11, 12, 16; 1 Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56
Today’s feast can answer some very human fear. Foremost is the fear of death. The Assumption of Mary calls us to trust that God, who raised Mary, body and soul, to heaven, will also raise us to eternal life. “In Christ shall all be brought to life,” Paul writes.
The Assumption also challenges any fears about aging. Our culture puts such a premium on looking young. The idea of growing old, of maturing into a deeper, wiser, more fully human person is not a priority on today’s cultural agenda. But, if we think about “looking good” in terms of reflecting on the goodness of the God who created us so that we may sing, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,” then our days may be lived out in the faith, hope, and love that we have because of Jesus Christ and his saving death and resurrection. The Spirit that came upon Mary at the Annunciation and again at Pentecost is at work even now in us. Mary’s destiny is our destiny.
How do you see God’s promise for us in this feast?
1 Chronicles 15:3-4, 15-16; 16:1-2; Psalm 132:6-7. 9-10, 13-14 (R/.8); 1 Corinthians 15:54b-57; Luke 11:28; Luke 11:27-28
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
Genesis 18:1-10a; Psalm 15:2-3, 3-4, 5 (R/. 1a); Colossians 1:24-28; cf. Luke 8:15; Luke 10:38-42
Do you ever look at maps? You quickly conclude there is no logical explanation for how countries or states are formed. It is all so arbitrary and fluid, truly “man-made.” Boundaries also tend to shift over time, sometimes due to changes in the earth, but more often, once again, to “man-made” situations like war or political agreements. Relational boundaries also tend to shift with time and circumstances, even between God and us. In the story of God visiting Abraham and Sarah, a boundary into deeper intimacy shifts when God promises Abraham that within a year Sarah will have a son. Another boundary is crossed when God speaks to Sarah for the first time. Unfortunately, we do not get to hear it today.
A Jewish home had physical boundaries, “male space” and “female space.” Mary was not in the kitchen where she “belonged.” More than that, she was sitting at the feet of the Jesus, the posture of a disciple, another crossing over into male territory. Jesus made it clear where, and what, Mary could be.
God is so into creation that it has not ended; new realities keep on coming. What boundaries in your life need shifting?