We begin a new year, it is mixed with both anticipation and fear, beginnings and endings. For us Catholics, we end this year with the sad news of the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He had an definite affect on the Catholic Church, before he became Pope, during his Papacy, and afterwards; and on the world around us.
We are beginning a new year. Liturgically, we are celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. We are reflecting on the important role of Mary in the salvation of humanity. We celebrate her courage to say yes, her willingness to say yes to bearing the child who would be the savior of the world. She was willing to become Mother of God the Son.
For that reason, for that courage, for that love that she had for God, for that love she had for all humanity; she is remembered and celebrated by Catholics and other Christians.
But I would challenge us to see Mary as a real human person. I am sometimes concerned, afraid that we treat Mary and our other saints, as characters in a show, play, movie and not as a real person. And Mary was a real human person. It was her courage and her love for God that allowed her to say response to the angel’s declaration, the Annunciation: “ Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1)
She should courage and strength, making that journey with Joseph to Bethlehem; and finding out that they had to stay in stable. She had the courage and the strength to give birth to the baby who would soon be named Jesus.
We have little information on what life was like for this little family when they finally were able to return to Nazareth. How often did she reflect on what had happened to her, her little child and her husband. Today’s gospel mentioned that she kept all that she experienced in her heart, reflecting on them, what they meant for her and for her son.
We know that she cared for her neighbors, friends and relatives. She and Jesus were invited to a wedding, what the relationship they had with the wedding party, we do not know; but it was there that she asked Jesus to come to the aid of the bridegroom with their wine shortage. And a son cannot say “no,” to his mother.
Mary was present at her Son’s suffering and death on the cross. She must have mourned deeply over witnessing that sight.
In our reflections on Mary, we need to remind ourselves that she was as human as the rest of us. That she experienced great joy, great hope; as well as great pain, and great sorrow. And it is these experiences that makes her a good advocate for us before God. So we can turn to her in our need:
“Hail holy Queen, mother of mercy, Our life, our sweetness and our hope. To you we do cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you do we send up our sighs; mourning and weeping in valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!”