Today is the Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the Theotokos as she is known in Greek. This day also marks the World Day of Peace. Of the many titles that the Holy Mother is known by, Queen of Peace is one of them. The photograph is of a piece of art that I bought from a man I interviewed in Burundi. Today, I am praying for peace in our world, but especially in Burundi.
I do not know if a new year held as much pressure for Mary as it does now for us. Many of us pull out our journals and scribble away our resolutions for the coming year–or as a more recent trend suggests, we choose a word that we hope will exemplify what is to come. A year ago today, I do not remember how I woke up. I had received the news the day before that I had a large tumour on my liver. I actually have not looked back in my journal today to see if I had made any long-term goals for 2015. If I had, I am sure that within the first two weeks, they would have pretty much crumbled into reality.
The trouble with making resolutions is that we are like the person in Scripture who stores up all the grain in bins and then learns that tomorrow he is going to die. In today’s Gospel, we read that the shepherds told Mary everything that they had been told about this child. Mary’s response was to treasure all these words and ponder them in her heart. I think we need to learn to do this more. To listen, receive the grace of the words and hold them lightly. The meaning will be revealed as it needs to.
One somewhat humourous example of how we do not do this happened to me one day some time ago when I was visiting with a male friend. I had checked my emails and a lunch invitation had come from a male I had met. I did something that I do not normally do and read the email out to the friend. What does it mean? I asked him. He wants to have lunch with you came the response. But what does that MEAN? was my question again. He wants to have lunch with you came the same response. Ah…..just receive the grace, treasure the moment and hold them lightly. What will unfold will unfold. We want to KNOW; we want answers. We cannot stand in the uncertainty.
Perhaps on this day of World Peace, the best way for that to reign in our hearts is to look to Mary and see that eight days later, probably still treasuring the words and pondering them in her heart, she went about the task that was hers–she circumcised the child according to tradition and named him Jesus as the angel had instructed her. She got on with her life and probably had moments of anxiety but somehow just kept moving forward without truly knowing what was to come. Yes, a visit from an angel might help us to do so with more conviction, but I believe that Mary still chose the path of peace by letting go and walking into the unknown with a heart full of trust. This is what comes to my mind as I look ahead to 2016. Stay in the moment. Treasure the graces there. Be amazed. Hold it all lightly. Life will unfold as it will. God will provide what is needed.
May 2016 be a year where the present moment is full of grace, just like Mary, for you.
Have you made New Year’s resolutions yet? Did you pray what God wanted for you as you enter this year?
How can 2016 bring you more peace?
Mary, Queen of Peace, show us how to hold lightly to each moment and to place our trust in God who alone knows our future. That is enough for us as we enter this New Year. May we be blessed and a blessing. Amen.