January 1, 2017: Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
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. (Luke 2:16-21)
The shepherds and Mary model three faithful responses to God’s call: action, reflection, thanksgiving.
I love the image of the shepherds making a hasty path toward Bethlehem. When I am working, I am focused. Spontaneity is not my strong suite. The shepherds were working in their fields, too, but they heard the call and fervently responded in order to pursue a path of truth and light When is the last time I made haste in my efforts to respond to the call to live by the teachings of Christ? Because the teachings of Christ call us to transformation, isn’t there temptation to do that … tomorrow?
“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Mary was wise to make note of how word had spread, take it in, and make sense of it in her heart. She must have known that the birth of the Christ would change the world forever, and she must have known that challenging the establishment comes at a price. What prayer did she whisper in hope for her child? Could they have been the same things refugee mothers whisper to their children as they try to make a new life in a foreign land?
Although it may not have been what they expected, the shepherds knew they experienced something extraordinary in Bethlehem, and they gave thanks to God. Oh, how rich their discussion must have been as they returned to the hillsides to graze their flocks; how curious they must have been about all they had seen. And in the end, they thanked God as the Source of the Gift.
Two thousand years after the birth of Christ, we are still urged to hear the call toward truth and light, then act, reflect, and express our gratitude. This week, consider how your actions are a response to the call of God. Reflect upon the role of Christ in your life and how you feel lead to break boundaries and create hope. And seize every opportunity to praise God for the ways Light and Truth are revealed in your daily life.