Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God
Num. 6:22-27 |Gal. 4: 4-7 |Luke 2: 16-21
When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.
The Three Kings are prominent in retelling the Christmas story, but Luke presents another version of how we learn about the Virgin birth. It was the shepherds who saw the star, found the family, then spread the news that this was no ordinary birth. Poor lowly shepherds are the authors of how this infant entered the world in a place meant to house animals. Then again, poor children in Lourdes, Fatima, and Mexico, were the privileged youth who had direct contact with the Mother of God and were told to give her message to the church hierarchy.
In my months in rural South Africa, I will never forget a poor child I witnessed herding cows through the sister’s property. The cows were probably leading him to greener grasses as he guided them with a limb from a tree attired in what can only be described as rags. Subsequently, I learned that the youngest in the family held this position until the next child became eligible. At that juncture, the shepherd entered school older than his classmates to eek out an education offered by a broken system with teachers far less prepared than those most of ours who formed our basic intellect.
But the shepherds of Bethlehem, poor and uneducated as they were, have become the history professors who have enlightened the world. They have implanted into our minds the mystery of life. That life begun in such deplorable conditions was in reality the existence of God among us for over thirty years. Those shepherds placed in manger scenes throughout the world over two thousand years after the birth of Jesus told an unbelievable story. They were describing what must have been a baby like none other, a mother so serene, a father so attentive, and surroundings so inappropriate, that it had to be news for the world to see. Those who heard the details could choose to believe or ignore what was told to them.
As we accept the New Testament accounts of the birth of our savior, let us examine how we come to believe in what is told to us. Is the source of information our criteria for belief or rejection? In this instance, is our faith the reason we accept what angels, shepherds and Kings revealed? Are we as jubilant and in awe as we should be in celebrating Christ reborn this year?
On this Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, may we begin another year by revisiting the creche with reverence and the realization that incredible things occur under mysterious circumstances. Mary knew that all things are possible with God, and we believe the origin of the incarnation was an impossibility in our rational thinking. This moving and incredible story should lead us who believe that perhaps our limitations on what we categorize as impossible are what create personal and world problems, because delving deeper into the birth of Christ and the life of his mother could reveal flaws in our faith and subsequent actions for the life of Christ that could be exemplified in our life.
Sr. Dorothy Maxwell, OP