Week of January 1, 2017

CLARY-MICHAEL-240

Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

“All these things” certainly changed Mary.  Consider what she had to ponder:  an angel telling her she would bear God’s own son; a census causing her to travel to Bethlehem on a donkey’s back; a manger filled with straw intended only for animals; a group of shepherds who are “amazed.”  She had to be asking herself: “What does all this mean?”  “How will I cope?”

In her heart, Mary’s ultimate answer to these questions was singular: Trust.  Trust in the God in whom she fully believed.  Trust that the angel’s message was true: Rejoice, O highly favored one, the Lord is with you.

In the “Hail Mary” prayer, we use the words “full of grace” to describe Mary.  But the Greek word used in Luke’s original writing actually means “favored to the greatest possible degree” – the strongest of all conceivable words to show how much God loved Mary and treasured her openness and her willingness to trust.

Abiding in such trust, Mary became the ultimate disciple, the epitome of what it meant to follow Jesus.  She is the one who surrendered her ego, who quieted her fears, who made the decision to trust – even though she had little knowledge of what was going on.  In her wildest dreams, this poor, humble woman could never had imagined how significant her “yes” would be in human history.

In the language of new year’s celebrations, Mary made a resolution – the resolution to open her heart to the amazing, enlivening fullness of grace; the resolution to voice a wholehearted “yes.”

In today’s Gospel, Luke challenges us to do the same.

Luke asks us to make our hearts like Mary’s…to resolve to notice the angels that appear in our lives; to resolve to welcome the shepherds of today – the poorest of the poor; to resolve to open our hearts to new possibilities, new beginnings, new dreams.

On this first day of the new year, let us resolve to make the heart of Mary our own.  Let us promise ourselves that we will clean out a room in our hearts so there will always be space for God to be wrapped in the swaddling clothes of our love and trust – a space within us in which the child Jesus can be re-born.  (Excerpts from a homily written by Ted Wolgamot in Celebration).

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