Tuesday, January 1, 2013

TableTalk, New Year's Day 2013

For our Catholic Christian family, this Solemnity of the Mother of God is Mother’s Day.   It is not so different from the May Mother’s Day we observe in our human families.   Both days are full of maternal sentiment and appreciation.  Mothers promote life and happiness.  Mothers open the door to the future.  The memory of a mother’s love is forever an encouragement—at least Mom loves me!  Mothers help us grow up.  They teach us life-skills:  how to tie our shoelaces, use a handkerchief, button our shirts or blouses. 

Our heavenly Mother, given to all of us through St. John at the foot of the Cross, is mother like that.  She bears in her heart our future and her blessing of us is that found in the reading from Numbers in today’s liturgy:  “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!”

As we live with Mary in the community of the Church, we can pick up from her what we need for an eternal life.  We can notice her day by day “pondering,” as Luke’s Gospel today points out:  “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”   The heavenly Mother kept contact with God, the God always present in the happenings of her life.  So, she could always follow God’s lead for her life.  In this way, she can teach us how to make it successfully through this life to the eternal one.

If you and I want a New Year’s resolution, consider the habitual “pondering” of the heavenly Mother.  What if we decided, each of us, to spend at least three minutes a day simply pondering God.  This is not something peculiar to Christianity.  Recently a Jewish rabbi was featured on CNN with the message that a really new year will depend on giving God center stage in our human lives by some prayer practice.  For us it can be three minutes a day—only!—of “pondering” to help us do that.

How to do it?  It means letting the heavenly Mother influence our way of praying.  Notice her special way:  she uses no words, she has no Bible in hand, only “pondering.”  This is one way she lived in God’s family.  She tried to be in God’s presence, tried to feel God’s presence.  That especially kept her in contact with God and able to follow God’s lead throughout her life.  She had a special knack for prayer.

What if we, her children, could practice that, like we practiced tying our shoelaces or buttoning our shirts or blouses as she looked on?  How new might 2013 be, if we imitated the “pondering” of our heavenly Mother? 

It will mean taking on a little of Mother’s discipline.  We will need to find the best spot in our daily schedule for the three-minute “pondering” like our Mother’s—no favorite prayers, no Bible, no nothing except opening up to God’s presence, just being with God and letting God be with me, for those three short minutes.  (The other kinds of prayer are good, too, and we can and should find time for them also.  But Mother’s “pondering” is special.) 

If my New Year’s resolution is to at least do the three-minute pondering, maybe I will see God more clearly in the events of my day, maybe I will be able to keep closer contact with God, maybe I’ll be more ready to follow God’s lead in my life.  It takes practice.  But wouldn’t that make the Heavenly Mother proud of her children?

Happy New Year to all!

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