In Her Heart

One of the joyful trends of childbirth in this day and age is that the fathers are also present at the birth. The shared love of the wife and husband brought forth this life. Together they celebrate the gift God has given them and the very
moment of birth. The gospels telling the Christmas story include Joseph. When the “shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem” they found “Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in the manger.” This feast day, however, is not one of Mary and Joseph, but of Mary. Yes, Joseph was faithful to God and said yes, as did Mary, to what God asked of him. Yes, Joseph was Jesus’ foster father and taught him the Jewish traditions and how to make a living by being a carpenter. But something else is being celebrated with this feast.

Our reflection on the mystery of the incarnation must be so deep as Mary’s that it brings us to greater holiness and faithfulness. It must bring us, like the shepherds, to come in haste to encounter the One who deserves all glory and praise.
Honoring Mary as the Mother of God goes beyond the event of her giving birth to the Son of God. By keeping “all these things” and “reflecting on them in her heart,” she exhibits a life of encountering God and being open to whatever God asks of her. Like Mary, we must ponder God’s entry into our own lives, making the divine Presence the very “stuff” of our hearts. We, too, must be open to whatever God asks of us. Sometimes pondering and reflecting will not resolve all the questions we might have. We do not only say yes to God when we understand perfectly all that God asks of us. No, instead we say yes to God, ponder what God wants of us, and then respond with a yes that is open to wherever God leads us. [Living Liturgy 2014]

In the Eastern Church the mystery of Mary as the Mother of God is referred to as Theotokos, literally, “the one who gives birth to God.” This feast day extolls Mary as one who cooperated with God’s plan of salvation, even when she did not understand fully what this plan was. She faithfully, however, reflected “in her heart” on God’s working in and through her. We, too, must give birth to God in our midst, reflecting in our own hearts about our own role in God’s plan of salvation for all people.

We give birth to God when we, like Mary, listen for God’s voice in our lives, respond with our yes to what God asks of us, reflect on God’s life in us as we strive to grow in holiness and faithfulness. The mystery of the incarnation is not something we celebrate once a year, but is a mystery we live and make present each day of our lives.