Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
January 1, 2023
When I was a boy my grandmother had a huge nativity set that came from her native Italy. I loved helping her unpack it and set it up each year at Christmas time. The hand-painted figures illustrating the Christmas story were a precious treasure my grandmother had cherished through the years. There were the usual shepherds and wise men of course. But there were also figures of people cooking food, playing musical instruments, and so on. I remember that each figure was sculpted in such a way that the character might have been gazing lovingly on the Christ Child—even though there were too many figures to fit them all around the manger!
In today’s Gospel we revisit the familiar scene of Christ’s birth, and watch the shepherds coming to find Mary, Joseph, and the Infant. Saint Luke–who gives us this infancy story–tells us that Mary “cherished all these things in her heart.” For the Gospel writer Mary symbolizes the model disciple: Throughout her life she listened attentively to God’s Word. She cherished it and reflected on its meaning. Her prominent place in the Gospel story leads us to believe that the Church from its earliest days recognized how Mary, having given her consent to bear the Word Made Flesh, continued to glorify God in all she did. Let’s imitate Mary, responding to God’s love born in us with all the love and care of a mother who treasures and savors each moment of her child’s life for as long as she lives.