The beginning of a New Year is a perfect time for pause and reflection. It’s a time for looking back at the past year and for reflecting on what we have achieved and where we may have been found wanting. It’s also a time for looking forward, a time for resolutions, and a time for new action.
As we reflect upon today’s feast we note that it closes the octave of Christmas, it’s the 8th day after Our Lord was born, the day on which he was circumcised, the day on which he was given his name.
Seen in the light of the first reading we understand that God’s blessing, which was in ancient times reserved for the people of Israel, is now, through the mediation of Christ, extended to all humanity.
And so, it isn’t without relevance that the Church keeps this 8th day of Christmas as a feast dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. Jesus, the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, did so because Our Lady responded to God’s invitation to become the mother of his eternal Son. Through Mary, conceived ‘through the power of the Holy Spirit’, the Incarnation of the Son of God comes about through a natural birth. St. Paul brings out the reality of the Incarnation in the second reading when he declares: ‘when the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman’.
This mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God was something upon which Mary must have contemplated a great deal. The events that preceded and surrounded the birth of Christ were things that Mary ‘pondered in her heart’. But Mary not only reflected, she responded, she was moved to action. Through her association with the mission and work of her Son, she would become Mother of the Church.
And so we find in Mary, not only a Mother, but also a model, an example for us to follow. Mary’s response to God’s invitation can and should inspire our own invitation to discipleship, something which was publicly proclaimed at our baptism. As the mystery of the Incarnation touches our own lives we too, can ponder these things in our own hearts, and we can look forward with resolve to a deeper commitment to Jesus, our Saviour, following the example of Mary his Mother, and our Mother too.