Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
They went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger (Lk 2:16)
This octave day of Christmas is also the first day of 2023. The Church honors Mary, the Mother of God. Taking all into consideration, the Church points out to us in the New Year, we should follow the example of Mary in our relationship with God.
The Gospel on this Solemnity is the continuation of the one that was proclaimed at Christmas Mass During the Night. After an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds in the region and proclaimed to them, “Today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord” (Lk 2:11), the shepherds “went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger” (Lk 2:16). Please note they went to Bethlehem, not at a regular pace, but in haste. In the Gospel of Luke, there was one person preceding the shepherds in this way of going out: Mary. After hearing the angel Gabriel, “behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren” (Lk 1:36), Mary “set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to the town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Lk 1:39-40).
Regarding the significance of the shepherds who went in haste following the example of Mary, let us revisit a comment of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, whom the current Holy Father, Francis has asked the entire Church to pray for his eternal rest:
The shepherds made haste. In a similar way, the evangelist had said that Mary on receiving the angel’s message about her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy, went ‘with haste’ to the town in Judea where Zechariah and Elizabeth lived (cf. Lk 1:39). The shepherds made haste, partly no doubt from human curiosity, in order to see this great thing that had been announced to them. But surely, too, they were driven by their joy on hearing that now, truly, a Savior the Messiah, the Lord had been born, the one so long awaited – and they would be the first to see him . . . How many Christians make haste today, where things of God are concerned? Surely if anything merits haste – so the evangelist is discreetly telling us –then it is the things of God.” See (Joseph Ratzinger –Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth: Infancy Narrative, trans. Philip J. Whitmore, Image: New York, 2017) 78-79.
In the new year, we often make a resolution. May we follow the shepherds in Bethlehem of Judea to imitate Mary, the Mother of God: set out in haste where things of God are concerned. In the next couple minutes of silence, let us reflect upon what the things are of God that you and I need to make haste in 2023. May I suggest:
In the middle of 2023, we enter the 2nd Year of the Eucharistic Revival in the United States of America: promoting the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist at the parish level. As the shepherds followed the example of Mary to make haste to see the things pertaining to God, we ask for the grace to put our Sunday Eucharist as the center our lives. May our “making haste” in this matter be demonstrated in this fashion: showing up a couple of minutes early to prepare for Mass, and not leaving the assembly after the reception of Holy Communion but kneel with the entire congregation to thank the Lord for loving us; and finally, give an assent, by the “amen” after the celebrant says the Prayer After Communion. Above all, make use of the Sacrament of Penance regularly as a way for our soul to make haste for the dwelling of the Lord.
The shepherds, following Mary, made haste to see the Lord who was laid in the manger. We, in turn, go in haste to the altar of the church every Sunday to see, adore, and receive the marvel of God. Have a blessed 2023! Amen.