by Vicky Otto, Companion Director

When I was a parish minister, one of my favorite liturgies was the Mass on New Year’s Day. It was a quiet, reflective, and prayerful time for the community without all the excessive stress we put on the Christmas celebrations. On January 1st, we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. On the eighth day of Christmas, we honor Mary’s role in the plan of salvation for all of us.

The Gospel for the day is familiar, Luke 2:16-21, the visit of the shepherds to the manger that we heard on Christmas Day. There is a line that strikes me in the Gospel. In verse 19, we read, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” I prefer the words found in other translations of that same verse, “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

As I reflected upon these words, I wondered what Mary treasured and what she pondered. I wonder if she treasured the moment because she saw the fruition of Gabriel’s proclamation with confirmation by the story the shepherds were sharing. Or perhaps she was treasuring the moment because she knew that her child was in some sense the Son of God. The lesson Mary shares with us at this moment is that she stayed present in the moment. She knew about the angels that the shepherds were speaking about, but she listened again to their story; she treasured the words that were being said about her Son, and her God and Savior of the world. I imagine if more people had come to the stable, she would have treasured each of their stories. Like all of us, I’m sure she had questions and pondered the future as well. What is extraordinary is that despite these questions and fear of the unknown, she didn’t let them stop her. She continued forward to fulfill her part in the plan for salvation with faith and with trust.

As we come to the end of 2020, what moments do we treasure, and what do we ponder? Many perhaps would say good riddance to 2020, but my hope is that we remember and treasure the moments of grace and love that we experienced throughout this challenging year. We need to treasure the moments of sacrifice and concern that people shared with each other, often with no fanfare or acknowledgment. Maybe we need to ponder that we are not the same people we were at the beginning of 2020 and the pandemic. What’s changed? What might hold us back as we go forward in 2021? My prayer is that as we begin this year, we follow the lessons of our Blessed Mother and stay focused on the gifts of mercy and love that we have been given through the birth of our Savior and continue our journey of discipleship with the same faith and trust that Mary did.