Word To Life January 1

By Deacon Mike Ellerbrock

North Texas Catholic

1/4/2017

January 1, Solemnity of Mary.
Cycle A Readings:
1) Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
2) Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel) Luke 2:16-21

 

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”        — Luke 2:19   

 

For nine months after the angel Gabriel’s annunciation, Mary pondered his message about her miraculous child to be.

During that time, while visiting her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth’s unborn baby leapt for joy, and Mary spoke with eloquence and humility about her understanding of God’s action in her life:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. … For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.”

Later when shepherds visited the manger, sharing the good news they’d received during their night watch, Mary again reflected on these things in her heart.

In today’s Gospel, Mary ponders and accepts her crucial role in the salvation of humankind. Luke’s subsequent narrative further reveals the burdens placed on her heart as the mother of Christ — and challenges us to ponder and accept God’s call.

As Mary takes Jesus to be dedicated in the Temple, she was following the Mosaic law of her time — a time when Jews believed that life is governed by the Ten Commandments as written on the tablets that once were stored in the Ark of the Covenant in the Temple’s innermost chamber. Now we realize Mary, as mother of God, is the new Ark of the Covenant.

Yet Mary’s joy was tempered when she encountered Simeon inside the Temple and he gives her something more difficult to ponder when he said, “This child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel … and you yourself a sword will pierce.”

For me, feeling called to the priesthood in my 20s, I consulted priests, read Thomas Merton voraciously, prayed and took frequent retreats. Eventually, the deciding factor was my fear that I could fall into spiritual arrogance as a celibate priest on a pedestal, taking pride in my sacrifices for the Lord and parishioners.

Choosing marriage has drawn me into the mystery of Mary’s simultaneous joy and fear about her Son’s destiny, challenging me to test my faith as a husband, father, and ordinary guy. How would I handle working hard for a living, possibly losing a job, or having a sick or handicapped child? 

Accepting God’s call to marriage and the diaconate has allowed me to follow Mary as a grateful, lowly servant praising God. 

QUESTIONS:
How can I replace my tendency to control with trust in the Lord?

January 1, Solemnity of Mary.
Cycle A Readings:
1) Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5-6, 8
2) Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel) Luke 2:16-21

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