Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2017)

Mary, Mother of God (January 1, 2017)

Perhaps it started as early as the evening of the 25th.  You’ve likely heard someone say it or post it online.  Maybe you’ve even said it yourself: “Thank God Christmas is over! Now things can go back to normal.”  Actually, we should remember that the 25th of December is the first day of Christmas.  The Octave of Christmas ends this Sunday, with January 1 being the 8th day, though “the 12 days of Christmas” go up to the feast of the Epiphany (traditionally observed on January 6).  The liturgical season of Christmas ends with the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, which this year falls on Monday, January 9.  And if you really want to push it (as I’m sometimes wont to do…mostly because of laziness), the celebration of Christmas technically ends on February 2—not Groundhog Day, but the feast of the Presentation of the Lord in the temple, 40 days after His birth.

Yet even considering all of this, is there really a time that we should say, “Thank God Christmas is over! Now things can go back to normal?”  The Word of God becoming flesh and dwelling among us/the Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity being born in time as a human being, is no little thing, but an earth-shattering event!  We even measure history by it: B.C. and A.D.  Now, without a doubt, there is something nice about returning to a more typical daily routine—without the extra shopping and mailing and decorating and baking and travelling and what not. 

But should a certain date on the calendar really mark a return to the way things have always been?  Or…even with all of the decorations put away, shouldn’t this be a renewed time to keep moving forward in our relationship with the living God?  We hear in the Gospel that the shepherds returned, but they returned “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”  Are we really to believe that things just went back to normal for them?

Today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  As we see in our 2nd Reading from Galatians, Christ’s coming to us through His birth from the Blessed Virgin Mary has enabled us to be transformed from slaves to adopted sons and daughters of God, with a heavenly inheritance.  This is who we are, and so we are called to grow as children of God each day!

We have a wonderful example of how to do this in our Blessed Mother, Mary.  After listening to what the shepherds had shared, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  (Later on in this chapter from Luke, we see similar words said of Mary after finding the boy Jesus in temple.)  Some translations of the Bible describe Mary as ‘treasuring’ all of these things in her heart.  Indeed, the heart of Mary became a “treasure chest” of God’s goodness and glory, God’s Word and God’s will.  But first her heart had to have the space to keep these things; and it is the same for us.  And once in her heart, these things didn’t just sit there collecting dust, but Mary continued to ponder over them in order to grow in knowledge and love of God’s ways; and it is to be the same for us.  It is then that we can allow the Lord to truly bless us and keep us, to let His face shine upon us and be gracious to us, to look kindly upon us and give us peace—for in the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us/in the Lord being born of the Virgin Mary, God takes on a human face, the face of an infant, because God knows that we almost can’t help but want to look on the face of an infant.  And looking upon this special infant, Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, we see the face of God’s mercy and love, the face of our salvation.

As we pack up from Christmas (some day) and return to our daily routines, may we not—at the same time—return to normal, but may the mystery of Christ’s Nativity continue to grow as a treasure and blessing in our hearts/in our lives.  Let us go forth from this Mass to announce the Good News and glorify the Lord by our lives as children of God.