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The Blessed Virgin, His Mother, Our Mother

Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
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!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

R. (2a) May God bless us in his mercy.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. May God bless us in his mercy.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. May God bless us in his mercy.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. May God bless us in his mercy.

Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.

Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.

NAB

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Happy Feast Day, Sisters! The Church gives us a beautiful feast on this Octave day of Christmas, Mary the Holy Mother of God. Even when it does not fall on a Sunday we are obliged to attend Mass on this day. Throughout Advent and now the Christmas season we are given opportunities to reflect on the Blessed Virgin Mary’s role in bringing about our redemption, and again we are given another chance to reflect on her person.

And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.

Our Mother shows us both how to be a mother and how to be a daughter in this passage from the Gospel. Here she is, post-partumming like a boss after her virgin birth, surrounded by the shepherds, the Magi, and her attentive husband, Saint Joseph. And she takes it all in to reflect on. Not to opine on or use as the basis for barking orders at those stray sheep dogs or that one errant drummer boy. Not to try to get a game plan going and be ahead of the next crisis (flight to Egypt!). She listens as a daughter who is respectful and available to God’s blessings and graces. She listens as a mother who will better understand her child by paying attention to God’s revelation about Him to others.

During my college years, my mom and I had a complex relationship. I loved her and wanted to hear her insights and simultaneously couldn’t get far enough away from her opinions (usually right, and now that I’m a mom, yup, almost completely right). It took years of wrestling with my own response to her strong personality to realize that I simply had to listen and reflect on her guidance. I didn’t have to fight it or fight her for sharing it. I could sift through it, seeing which pieces resonated within and which ones didn’t.

Reflective listening: not a skill set I’d learned in my loud, happy, involved clan of five fiercely loyal kids growing up close in age to one another. To get any words in edgewise (even now!), one must wait and pounce on a nanosecond of silence. And as a mother myself, I find my six year old wants to badly to be the one to show me, to tell me, to share with me. When I sit open to the imaginative play of my four year old, she feels important and loved. My two year old will rub “where you hurt, mama” on my very pregnant belly and show his love, when I slow down and let him. Reflective paying attention, another of Mary’s skills.

How are you listening this Christmas season? Are you attune to yourself and your pain and your longings? Are you listening to the hum and stir around you, where you might find kernels of God’s plan for you? Are you practicing reflective listening like Our Mother?

Nell O’Leary is an attorney turned stay-at-home mom to four lovelies. She and her husband live in the great city of Saint Paul. You can find out more about her here.

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