The liturgical season can be a roller coaster ride. We ended the liturgical year by celebrating Christ the King and then entered Advent, preparing for the birth of a newborn infant, our king and savior. The Church devotes an entire octave to celebrate this historic birth. And now the roller coaster ride levels off a bit as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. Our readings exhibit a tenderness that we sometimes forget is present in Scripture.
The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!
How do we receive blessings from the Lord? Do we bless each other with the same tenderness God shows us?
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
How do we receive God in our hearts? Do we receive each other with the same tenderness?
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God.
How do we respond to God’s love and blessing? Do we respond to each other with the same tenderness?
As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Mother of God, we are reminded of God’s tenderness. The earthly parental love of God contrasts with the lofty image of Christ the King. Both images are important and invite both reflection in our hearts and praise for our God. Yet, the emphasis on parental tenderness in today’s readings raises an important challenge. Just as God shows tenderness to us, we must show tenderness to one another.
After over a month Christmas parties, of family and community visits, of decorating, and of all the other activities that have commanded our attention, we may have tired of the roller coaster ride known as the “holiday season.” Our nerves may be frayed, and we may feel on edge. And the same may be true of our loved ones and the stranger in our midst. So, the importance to treat all with loving tenderness is even greater. Mary, the Mother of God, is our mother as well. Just as Mary discovered and accepted new dimensions in her motherhood and discipleship, hopefully we have discovered and accepted new dimensions in our own discipleship as we continue to move forward into this New Year.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator