Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


By Lucinda M. Vardey

Today’s scripture recounts Mary’s reaction to the words the shepherds heard from the angels, that she treasured and pondered them in her heart.

During our parish’s Magdala seminar on feminine theology in Rome last year, French theologian, Anne-Marie Pelletier, helped us more fully understand what we could glean about Mary’s spirituality from these few words in Luke’s gospel. Because of the fact that Mary speaks rarely in all the gospels, she has been more widely portrayed as docile, meek and humble.

But Prof. Pelletier claimed that Mary’s reserve is evidence of an interior life of prayer within a heart whose intelligence was capable of “contacting the invisible depths of reality where God is present and working, creating and re-creating.” Mary’s silence was necessary to be able to piece together the parts of the mystery unfolding through each moment of her life.

These moments were writing the course of salvation history: from the conception of Jesus after the angel Gabriel’s encounter, his birth in a stable, the loss of him as a young boy in Jerusalem and the finding of him in the temple, and all the many sorrows Mary experienced throughout her son’s earthly ministry. Everything changed with Mary’s motherhood. Her family changed, Israel changed, the world changed and we changed.

This feast celebrating Mary’s motherhood on the first day of a new year invites us to also ponder in our hearts the wisdom of God. The Holy Mother, who bore the hardships to birth our salvation, is not only accorded our devotion, but intercedes for us that we may have faith when we do not know and the courage to accept with love whatever God gives us.

Above all else, Mary teaches that accepting the unfolding of God’s plan for each of us enables grace to work more freely within our hearts. As we treasure what has been given us, and ponder the significances of our experiences (especially in the year just passed) we open ourselves to be taken forward as more abled servants of the Lord.

Sunday’s Readings: Numbers 6.22-27; Galatians 4.4-7; and Luke 2.16-21