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01/01/2020 Solemnity of Mary

Children take after their parents; their parents' example teaches them how to be human.

The same thing goes for our spiritual life. In today's Second Reading, St Paul reminds us that through God's grace we have all become brothers and sisters of Christ and, therefore, children of God. This is what happened at baptism. At that moment we were born again, supernaturally; God infused his divine DNA into our souls. The spiritual life consists of the gradual spread and development of that DNA, until each one of us becomes a maturewise, and fruitful follower of Jesus Christ.

Today's Solemnity reminds us that if we have become Christ's spiritual brothers and sisters, we have also become spiritual children of Mary. She was his mother in the flesh, and she is our mother in grace. And just as we learn from our natural mothers how to be good human beings, so we learn from Mary how to become mature Christians. She is the living school where we learn every virtue that leads to happiness and holiness.

In today's Gospel she teaches us one of the most important virtues of all: wisdom. St Luke tells us how Mary responded to the wonderful things that God was doing in and around her: "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." Just as Mary's womb was open to receiving God's living Word at the moment of Christ's Incarnation, so her heart was constantly open to receiving God's ongoing words and messages as he continued to speak through the events of her life.

This capacity and habit of reflecting in our heart on God's action in our lives is both a sign and a source of wisdom.

And we can never become maturecourageous, and joyful followers of Christ unless we develop it.

St Bernard of Clairvaux was once traveling with a poor, uneducated farmer, who noticed that the abbot kept his eyes cast downward. When the farmer asked why the saint wasn't looking at the beautiful countryside, Bernard explained that he wanted to avoid distractions while praying. In response, the farmer boasted, "I'm never distracted when I pray." The saint objected, "I don't believe it. Now let me make a deal with you. If you can say the Our Father without one distraction, I'll give you this mule I'm riding. But if you don't succeed, you must come with me and be a monk." The farmer agreed and began praying aloud confidently, "Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed by thy name..." Then, after pausing for moment, he asked St Bernard, "Does that include the saddle and the bridle, too?"

I think we can all relate to that.

And if we find ourselves fighting distractions when we try to pray, imagine what our interior chamber looks like when we're not trying to pray!

And yet, unless we learn to keep our hearts open and clear, like the inside of a violin, we will never be able to grow up, spiritually speaking; we may have a good time being distracted by the glitter and noise of a consumer society, but we won't be growing in wisdom; and God's grace will never be able produce the music that our lives were meant to produce.

Today’s Gospel says that when the shepherd’s explained the reason for their visit: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  Granted that many people today are recovering from yesterday evening’s festivities, it’s not hard to start this New Year as Mary did: peacefully, quietly, and in a spirit of contemplation, not just recuperation. All the fanfare is over, and the new year has just started. Reflect on the things in your heart. There are certainly things there you treasure, but also things there you regret. Now is the moment to inaugurate a year of peace.

When we’re at home, it’s the most natural thing in the world to say “Good Night” to our mothers. It’s a sign of our love for them. It’s also a sign of our gratitude.

Why not do the same thing with our heavenly mother? If we want to grow in our relationship with the Blessed Mother, saying good night to her is an excellent means.

So this week, let’s pause for a minute before going to bed. Let’s look at a statue or a picture of Mary, and simply say good night and ask her to watch over our sleep.

And our Mother of Mercy will take care of the rest.  



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