As we begin the New Year, the church calls us to pray to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the Mother of God, and to reflect on her life. Yet, as we listen to and read the scriptural passages+ for this feast, we learn very little about Mary – just that she is Jesus’ mother, and that she pondered and treasured what the Shepherds said in her heart. Most of us would like to know more about Mary, but the scriptures tell us very little. What we do know is that her life was not always an easy one. From the birth in Bethlehem to the foot of the cross where she saw her Son die, it it obvious that Mary lived with trust and hope in God. Did she have moments of quandary, disillusionment, confusion and even doubt, as she lived her life and raised and buried her son? Of this, the scriptures say nothing, but I suspect she did. If her son could cry out in agony, “My God, My God why have you forsaken me,” then I suspect Mary had similar moments in her life too.
Just because we have moments of desperation, does not mean that we have given up on God and lost all hope, it only means that we are human and in need of God’s love and God’s care. This we find in prayer, in grace, and in the love and support of our neighbor (friends, family, and even stranger).
Some homilies I have read or heard on this feast day idealize Mary’s life. No matter what happens in Mary’s life, they seem to think that she remained calm and absolutely peaceful. Almost as if she was outside of life, and only viewed it from a distance – a heavenly distance. Now that doesn’t seem very real, or human to me. Mary was a human being, just like her son – that is the whole point of the incarnation (Christmas mystery). If I reflect on the few passages in the bible about Mary, I have to conclude that no matter what happened, Mary never really lost hope, and her life reflected a trust in God, and a determination to do what God wanted. Did she have difficult – down moments? Of course, she was human. And that is why she is an inspiration to all of us. God loved her, and selected her to be the mother of Jesus, and because she is God’s mother, and we are God’s children, in some mysterious divine way she is our Mother too and she love and understands us. Through Mary, the human race was reborn, revived, redeemed, and through her, humanity was able to begin again.
Today – Tonight as we begin the Year 2010 it is a time of new beginnings – a time for resolutions:
Let us Resolve to accept angels when they come into our lives, announcing the impossible.
Let us Resolve to remember that nothing is impossible with God.
Let us Resolve to welcome strangers – the shepherds of our own world who show up unexpectedly in our lives.
Let us Resolve to live in wonder, and humility, and trust.
Let us Resolve to ponder and treasure our life’s journey in our hearts.
And, last but not least, let us Resolve to live in possibility, and in hope.*
This, I think, is what it means to live like Mary. It is to recognize and accept the mystery of our humanity, and to embrace the divine.
Today, as we begin the New Year, let us ask Mary the Mother of God, and our Mother in Heaven to watch over and pray for us as we begin a New Year. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen