After the feast of the Holy Family we celebrate the motherhood of Mary. Its the feast of all mothers. The first reading shows the graciousness of God reflected in Mary. Paul talks of God as daddy, Abba, the title we give to our own beloved fathers. In the Gospel we see Mary and Joseph with baby Jesus, and Mary reflecting on his importance. Lets all confess ways we may have neglected to reflect the importance of each child in our homes..
The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world; mothers are the backbone of society. A good mother or father is priceless. Mary, God’s mother and our’s is a model for parents. For God chose as mother for Jesus a humble pious girl: “He hath looked on his servant in her lowliness”, Mary says. She drew a wide lesson from God’s choice: “he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly”. God’s choice of Mary is the opposite of worldly values. It says the key people in his world aren’t the wealthy or powerful but those who serve God and others with integrity and humble love. They seldom receive worldly praise; saintly nuns, kind carers, good parents, faithful parishioners, keen nurses and doctors; the sick who offer up their sufferings.
At Jesus’s conception there were many rich, powerful, self-serving lords & ladies – Herod’s wife for example. Yet God didn’t ask her to be his mother or to worship his son. It was humble shepherds who came to honor him and his mother, a poor obscure village woman. She became Christ’s mother because she was authentic, listening to God in her heart and doing his holy will. That’s her message for us. To serve God and fellow human beings with real fatherly and motherly love, shunning the world’s hard greed and lust for power. I remember when I was abroad, the Christmas commercialism blinded me; it was good if sales were up. Boxing day, decorations came down and straight into the sales. As if families were not skinned enough. It was all about money. Our twelve days of Christmas should focus more on family bonding and worship of God. In this holiday season let’s put our main energies into faith, family togetherness and restoring lost family ties. In this let Mary be our model also; her kindly spirit should inspire our home life at Christmas and always.
Indeed that already happening. In many modern-day Bethlehems, overlooked by the world, God’s saints, like you, are still lighting up our fallen world with motherly and fatherly care. People with humble, generous hearts who answer God’s call to be nurturers of our precious children. We need such good mothers & fathers as never before, to bring human warmth into our plastic world. Look at the difference Mary made by becoming Jesus’s gentle mother. She ensured the long-term victory of God. Faithful fathers and mothers make a huge difference too. By creating happy united families, they become a light to society and the world.
We don’t have to run off for fulfillment elsewhere. There is enduring joy in family faithfulness through thick and thin. And only as humble faith-filled parents can we birth Christ in a world every bit as troubled, violent and sinful now as it was in Mary’s time. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”, let all of us parents be just that. For in doing our parental task well, even myself as spiritual “father”, we’ll draw ever closer to Mary’s Son. And all else passes away at last, but he is lord of love, goodness and homely care for our happiness in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God people, imitating the motherhood of Mary and the fatherhood of God in our love for and nurture of those in our care, let’s profess our faith..
For our Holy Father; may her guide Mother Church and her children in faith, generosity and all-embracing tenderness like Mary does.
For civil leaders that their care of those they lead may be marked by integrity, dedication and concern especially for their weaker and more underprivileged citizens..
For our wonderful youth; may they remain faithful to Mother church and their heavenly Father and Mother, and so be safe from the evil one’s wiles, and come to happiness here and hereafter..
For ourselves in our homes that we may be true fathers and mothers to those in our care and bring them up with tender love, faith and goodness so that they may fulfill their great destiny.
For the sick of our families and larger parish family, that as we pray for and reach out to them in love, they may know the healing care of their heavenly Father and Mother..
For the dead that through our love, prayers and remembrance they may reach at last the arms of their Father and Mother in the home that is the destiny of each one of us as the family of God..
We ask all these our prayers through Christ born of Mary and nurtured in her loving arms forever and ever, amen.
I often reflect on that play “Riders to the Sea” about a mother on the western seaboard who loses her sons one after the other to the sea. “They’re all gone now”, she says, her grief overflowing, as her last son’s drowned body is brought into the house. Mothers endure much, especially when they lose a child. Mary felt the joy of baby Jesus in her arms at Christmas. But later she had to cradle his dead body in the same way. Mothers, as the play says, endure much in their coming in and their going out of this world. Lets pray for all mothers and their great role..Hail Mary