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Numbers 6:22-27
Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Gal 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

Today's feast honoring Mary, the mother of God, opens the new year with a foundational Christian faith reality: that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son to be our brother and our rescuer, to paraphrase St. John's Gospel. Mary's part in this divine plan began with the Annunciation of the wonderful birth she would experience in bringing forth Jesus, the Word of God made flesh. Her motherhood of Jesus ended with her at the foot of the cross Our faith invites us to meditate on Mary, the mother of Jesus and the mother of God.

St. Luke's Gospel shows throughout a focus on Mary. Some speculate that he knew Mary and grew in his faith along with the Mother of God. With unselfish love she devoted herself to loving her son, Jesus, and being his first disciple as she watched and learned the ultimate meaning of his vocation in God's Plan, giving himself to that plan with heart and soul. She and her husband Joseph were the first to be invited to ponder deeply who this boy and man really was (in God's eyes).

Mary herself is the guide to that meditation/contemplation. Our Gospel today declares, "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." A lifetime of pondering is initiated with her first encounters with her beloved son.

Thus, Mary is our model in relating to her son, the Son of God. And we can follow her in "reflecting with our hearts". We too experience Jesus as Word and Rescuer. Jesus encounters us as persons and as Community of Faith to open our selves to his ultimate purpose and goodness. Let us open ourselves to those meetings with the one we call The Christ and be led to receive and reflect those encounters with our true self and the others that accompany us: friends, family, the poor, those in need, the sick, the imprisoned and the sister/brother that call upon us to share our gifts of faith, hope and love with them. Mary is clearly the original person of faith in her acceptance of God's plan for her and for the world through her. That is our same call also: to encounter Christ and to extend that encounter with others as one of his contemporary disciples. We pray for that encounter and passing it to others as Mary does so magnificently in her being the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of God.

By Tom Shanahan

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