“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” -Luke 2:19
As the Octave of Christmas draws to a close, and as a new year begins, we see in these wonderfully selected readings the depthless love of God continuously poured out onto us. Each of today’s readings reminds us in a slightly different way that we are all called to be children of God, and to come and worship him in Jesus.
In the first reading from the book of Numbers, we see an early reminder of God’s love for us. It is almost funny when you reflect on it, that God is commanding that the people of Israel be blessed in such a way as to invoke his abundance of love and grace. I find it very reassuring that God would take such an aggressive route to remind us that he gives his love for us so richly and freely!
In the second reading, this message of love goes a bit deeper and moves towards an even more real encounter with God. We see Paul reminding the Galatians of Christ’s birth and passion as well as the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. Paul reminds us that the ultimate sense of this outpouring of love is made manifest in Christ Jesus. Through his passion and death, and renewed each day in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus draws us up from our slavery to death and not only frees us from this bondage, but makes us like his own brothers and sisters in the eyes of God the Father. Wow! God’s love is so great that he was not satisfied simply to redeem us from death by the blood of the Son, but he goes a step further and makes us heirs to the kingdom!
Finally, in the Gospel, we see the shepherds going forth and proclaiming the love of God for the world, made manifest in the birth of his son Jesus. This is the realization of God’s love for his people! His son has come into the world, sharing in our humanity so that by lowering himself, he may elevate us.
Every time we go to Mass and receive Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, we proclaim with the shepherds the glory and majesty of God. Maybe next time at Mass, while we pray after receiving Jesus, we can join Mary and take that quiet moment to reflect on all the wondrous ways God shows his love to us in our lives, most especially in this most precious gift of the Eucharist. No matter what struggles or temptations we have, God loves us! He proves it every Sunday at Mass.
Mary, most Blessed Mother of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we join you in a quite moment to reflect on what a special gift it is we receive in the Eucharist, the Body of Christ. Help us to keep this reality of God’s love always in our hearts just as you did in Bethlehem, so that when we must bear our own crosses, we may embrace them with love, knowing that Jesus will always be at our side. Amen.