Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - January 1, 2019 (Thoman)

Numbers 6:22-27 | Heb 1:1-2 | Lk 2:16-21

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

I. During Advent I added several Advent devotionals to my regular prayer pattern:
I recall I used three booklets and I also followed Dynamic Catholic. I also changed
the place where I normally pray so that even the location would “freshen up” my
prayer a bit. Overall, tried to be more conscious of prayer. In other words, I tried
to keep Advent well.

But now that Advent is over two of the devotional booklets and Dynamic
Catholic have ended. And I also find myself reverting back to my former prayer
place. So I’m thinking maybe my New Year’s resolution should be to keep up that
more intentional focus on prayer. I should try to hang on to being more
attentive in prayer.

II. We are blessed to begin the new year with Mary as a model of reflective listening,
pondering and praying. In the gospel today we are told “Mary kept all these
things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

It says “all things” – so it wasn’t just this one experience of the shepherds
coming to the manger.

  • Surely Mary reflected upon the meaning of the angel’s message that she was to be the Mother of God
  • She would have marveled at her experience of visiting Elizabeth
  • Today – the shepherds coming to the manger and their message of the angels
  • And then later on the Magi’s visit
  • The presentation of Jesus in the Temple after 40 and their encounter with Simeon and Anna
  • She would have wondered about Joseph’s dreams and the way in which he responded to God’s will
  • The time when she and Joseph found the 12-year-old Jesus in the Temple
  • And then, of course, all the experiences of the adult Jesus teaching and working miracles

Mary pondered all these things, tossed them around in her mind and heart.
Surely she took them to prayer. Mary is our inspiration – and guide – in the
ways of prayer as we begin this new year.

III. Our own prayer should definitely have a structure to it: it should be more than
just random prayers now and then. Such prayers are good, of course, but a
disciple of Jesus prays on a regular basis – it’s more than a prayer before meals
most of the time, a prayer asking for something during the day and going to Mass.
All of that is prayer, of course, but there should be some kind of structure to
it – just like we have other personal routines and patterns throughout the day,
so it would also be with prayer. Prayer should not be an “add on” to what we do in
life, but an integrated part of life.
Some common advice would be to make time in the morning and evening for
prayer. These become like “hinges” in the day on which other forms of prayer

I urge to integrate a structured prayer pattern into your life. The basis for that
Structure could be Morning and Evening Prayer from the Church’s Liturgy of the
Hours. There are free apps available with these prayers.
And, like Mary, develop a habit of “pondering,” tossing around the events of life.
We have all sorts of experiences throughout any given day – something we read,
something we see on TV, a conversation with someone, an event that happens,
just our own passing thoughts – all are material for possible pondering – ways in
which we may have an opportunity to be aware of God’s presence. All of these
things can be taken into our prayer time.

And praying doesn’t necessarily mean saying “prayers.” Structured prayer,
someone else’s prayer composition is helpful and gets us started. But isn’t just
or only words; prayer can just mean being quiet and present to God’s presence.
That can be at home away from any distractions…it can be in church…it can be
out taking a walk…even quiet times driving…or doing some routine task.

IV. Mary is our inspiration in prayer as we begin this new year of 2019…like any year,
this year will have it’s ups and downs….triumphs and challenges.

As we enter into this year, may we hold in our heart the blessing of Aaron:
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!