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Reflection on the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

Posted on January 1, 2024, by Mary Swain SL

Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians 4:4-7, Luke 2:16-21

We just heard in the first reading about God telling Moses to instruct Aaron and his children just how to bless the people. A wonderful blessing God speaks to Moses:

May God bless you, and keep you;
May God’s face shine on you, and be gracious to you;
May God look upon you kindly and give you peace!

Then God says, “This is the way to put my name on the Israelites and I then will bless them.”

This blessing that God describes or gives to Moses tells us who God is. This is the way to “put my name on the Israelites,” God says. In the Bible we know that a name is much more than a way to keep track of who someone is. Carroll Stuhlmueller says that “in the Bible a name gathers up and indicates the direction of a person’s entire life.” So, when God tells Moses the way to put God’s name on the people, we learn that the direction of God’s life is to be gracious to us and to look upon us kindly and to give us peace. That is how we experience God in our tradition. God is showing us mercy, God is reaching out to us, God is comforting us. Carroll Stuhlmueller says that God’s vocation is to be compassionate. God is God in order to be compassionate. John the Evangelist says, “God is love.” Another way to put it. At the very end of today’s Gospel, Jesus is given his name: Jesus, the Hebrew word for “God saves.” God’s vocation was Jesus’ vocation. Jesus’ vocation was also to be compassionate. It is as though Jesus cannot do enough. Jesus enfleshes God. Jesus incarnates God. Jesus is so one with God, God was transforming him, and Jesus seemed to understand what was happening. God wants the people to know: I am all for you. I look on you with great kindness. I want you to be at peace.


Mary Swain SL

Mary Swain SL has been a consultant to the National Religious Retirement Office and has served on the board for the National Association for Treasurers of Religious Institutes. Along with her math background and service to the Loretto Community in the financial area, she has experience as a church organist and plans and prepares materials for Loretto liturgies at Loretto Motherhouse and for special occasions. Mary resides at Loretto Motherhouse, the grounds of which receive her careful tending and loving touch.