by Sr. Cynthia Hruby, ND
And Mary Pondered
1st Reading: Numbers 6:22-27 “… The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you…”
Do you use FaceTime? Before Christmas I happened to watch the PBS program called The Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer. From Anthony of Egypt through Greece, Romania, and on to Russia, monks and nuns carried forward this tradition of interior prayer. I could be scandalized by the stark contrast between the barren desert cave dwellings and the elaborate Orthodox lamps, vestments, and paintings. Setting that aside, I began to evaluate my prayer time that is given just to being in the presence of the Beloved. A mantra like the Jesus Prayer can direct one to “let his face shine” on exterior and interior senses. Blest be your Sacred FaceTime!
2nd Reading: Galatians 4:4-7 “… God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba Father!”
Not only does the Lord’s face shine on us, but the Spirit sent to us cries out, “Abba!” I think of Carey Landry’s song with the image of the potter shaping all of us into a people. At charismatic prayer meetings, I was encouraged to greater awareness of the Spirit within myself, others, and in community. For some, this was a popular movement, even a pious movement. In THE JOY OF THE GOSPEL, Pope Francis writes about the evangelizing power of such popular piety (121). He “exhorts” us to “approach it with the gaze of the Good Shepherd who seeks not to judge but to love” (125). Through the power of the Holy Spirit, ministers “can make present the fragrance of Christ’s closeness and his personal gaze.” The Pope refers to the art of accompaniment in which we “remove our sandals before the sacred ground of the other” and give “our compassionate gaze which also heals, liberates, and encourages growth in Christian life” (169). Much to ponder! We cannot give what we have not received. Open your Sent box!
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21 “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
The Gospel takes us to the Christmas scene with the Shepherds. They gaze and, very likely, receive Mary’s “mother gaze.” Jump ahead to the foot of the Cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple. Can you imagine the steady gaze exchanged then? That’s when Jesus said, “Behold your son... Behold your mother” (John 19: 26-27). Thus, Mary’s womb remains forever fruitful. She leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to his Mother. Much to ponder!
January 1, is also World Day of Peace
“…The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name..., and I will bless them.”