St Francis Q&A

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - homily

If you’re like me, you don’t do well with New Year’s resolutions. I think the only resolution I’ve kept is to NOT MAKE resolutions! Maybe some of you get motivated by the change in calendar year to make improvements in your life, and I say, good for you! I get more motivated by seeing an example of someone who has made improvements in their life, making better choices, or has better habits. I get motivated by seeing the example of the saints; Mary is the greatest saint. We can look at one aspect of her life that is a great example to us: her prayer life.

Now, we might think, “well, of course, Mary had a good prayer life. She is the Mother of God, the mother of Jesus, she was immaculately conceived, she was perfect”. Yes, but she is human. She is not divine. She endured stress and busyness like we do. She had a lot going on in her life and she still made time to pray. If we look at the year in which her son was born, we see that she had a lot going on.

First, the scene at the Annunciation. She was like 14 or 15 years old, an angel appears to her and tells her that she is to be the mother of the Son of the Most High. She must have been thinking, ‘what is this all about?’ I’m sure that she reflected on that event throughout her whole life. And, then, the Holy Spirit conceived Jesus in her womb. She didn’t stop with that; she went to visit her kinswoman, Elizabeth. She had a long journey over rough terrain. There was a lot going on with Elizabeth – she was thought to be too old to have a baby, and she gave birth to John the Baptist. Mary stayed with her for three months; there was a lot there for her to deal with and to process.

And, then, there was a lot for her to go through with the birth of Jesus. She and Joseph were having problems – Joseph wanted to divorce her quietly. An angel needed to intervene to tell Joseph not to bolt. Then, they moved around when Jesus was about to be born and Magi and shepherds show up at that scene. Great things were said about her child, things that amazed all who were there.

There was much going on for Mary. There was much busyness and stress. There were huge events. And yet, we hear that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). She found the time to pray. She needed to pray. She needed to take a step back from all of it and to find some peace. She had to reflect on what was happening in the life of her son. She had to take a deep breath and reflect on what was happening in her life. She had to gain some understanding of what God was saying to her through all of this: through the angel Gabriel, through Elizabeth, through Joseph, through the Magi and shepherds. She prayed to know what God was saying through all of this and to see what He wanted from her.

We need to imitate Mary and make time for prayer. We need to take a step back, catch our breath, and reflect on what has been going in these events that we’ve been celebrating for the past week, at least. We need to ask, ‘what is this all about?’ The more I talk with people who have been praying for many years and who say they can’t imagine life without prayer, the more I realize that prayer is a necessity for the Christian life.

We come to Mass, we come to the Eucharist, to imitate Mary and reflect on these things in our hearts. We come to take a step back and catch our breath. We come to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ and our own lives, as Mary did. May each of us find the peace and understanding which God desires for us through prayer and as Mary found. May prayer help us to know God’s Will and to do it this day and throughout our lives.


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