The Church celebrates the feast of Mary, Mother of God on Jan 1. A Religious Sister offers this reflection.

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Mary my Mother, we would like to wish you a very happy new year, to thank you for your faithful help and to ask for your continued protection and guidance. We won’t wait for Mother’s Day to do this.

Invited to be the Mother of God, you were little more than a child yourself. A teenager who treasured God’s promises to Israel, you never thought of yourself as immaculate. You were too busy thinking of God, loving Him and being loved by Him. You helped His people in Nazareth, especially the poor, and you prayed for needy people and situations you saw and heard about. Like water in God’s hands, you “did whatever He told you”, and you witnessed miracles, big and small.

Mother, were you continually amazed at God’s action in your life? A woman of few words, you preferred to listen to the Word. You must have been at a loss for words sometimes. “How can this be?” you asked the heavenly creature before you.

You never dreamed what extremes of joy and pain the God adventure would bring. You simply said “Yes” that day, and many times each day, all your days: “I am the handmaid of the Lord.” And then eternity moved in your womb and nursed at your breast.

Amidst the nappy-changing, and toilet-training, the 30 hidden years of moulding a child into a man, did you sometimes look at Joseph with wonder? Was all the drama of the early years a dream? This good, chaste man, your protector and provider, was quietly sacrificing his life for God’s dream. You both knew you were living within a great mystery.

As you pondered the baffling ways of the Divine, and questions arose in your heart, the answer seemed to be always “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” God would do it all, He just needed your faith.

So whenever you felt overwhelmed – in your breathless escape to Egypt; in the people’s adulation and condemnation of your Son, amidst fear and chaos at His passion – you knew deep down that you were held by grace. Nothing could separate you from the love of God. Below the Cross, you were rooted in childlike trust in the Father’s love. Beneath the waves of horror, did you marvel at the foolish extremity to which Love would go to save her children? Did you cling then to the memory of God’s amazing graces – the water becoming wine, the dead rising to new life? Ah, the wonder of it, that at this moment, He gave you a mission: to become the Mother of sinners, to become my Mother.

Therefore, you are the strong hope of all who bear and care for children. Above all, you are the friend of those who bury their children. You know their grief. At the right time, you help them to say: “The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21), who brings a part of us to heaven to help us live from the future.

Mary our Mother,
You relied completely on Him,
So you could respond fully to Him.
And when your tender eyes grew dim,
And He who overshadowed you once before,
Softly came to you once more,
Was your hair tinged with grey?
You seem to smile and say,
“Old age, my child,
Lasts only a little while.”

And then what, Mother? I look at the stunning paintings of your glorious Assumption, can they be true? The Spirit that seized you into heaven reminds me: “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, the heart of man has not conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him” (Isaiah 64:3). But God gives a foretaste, an impetus to help us embrace the cross. And so, saints like St Paul knew a little of the “breadth and the length, height and depth of Christ’s love which surpasses all understanding” (Ephesians 3:19).

I believe, my Mother, that when you were raised above all creatures and angels, the light of your glory filling the heavens, you burst into song: “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”

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