During Christmas time, we have been attentive to the child born to fulfill the promises made long ago. Today we focus on Mary, the one from whose flesh the child was fashioned. In all the Christmas stories she is silent, explaining nothing when visitors come to see the marvels that have taken place. Most likely she did not understand them herself. Today we are told that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Paul too kept all these things, reflecting on them in his heart. But he was not silent. He proclaimed them wherever and whenever he could. In the Letter to the Galatians, he was concerned to show that Jesus was indeed a man of flesh and blood, the flesh and blood of Mary. He was human, “born of a woman”; he was a Jew, “born under the law.” According to Paul, the very humanness that Jesus received from Mary won us the right to call God “Abba, Father!”
There are times when the divine qualities of Jesus overwhelm us. Then, like Mary and Paul, we too must reflect on all these things in our hearts. At other times we might have to remind ourselves of his humanness. This too calls for reflection. The excitement that surrounds Christmas, the lights and the music, the feasting and the guests can prevent us from appreciating the real meaning of the feast. At such times, we must step back and reflect on these things in our hearts.
The blessing of Aaron, found in the passage from Numbers, is appropriate for any time and any circumstance. But it is particularly fitting for the first day of the year, the day set aside in a special way to pray for peace. So many of our families suffer from misunderstanding and deep-seated resentments; neighborhoods are torn apart, and communities are ravaged with racial or ethnic hostility. The world itself is caught in the throes of violent war. We are in desperate need of God’s peace.
• Perform some special kindness for a member of your family.
• Spend some time reflecting on the role that Mary plays in your life.
• What attitudes do you maintain regarding people of Eastern origin? Asians? Arabs?