A week ago we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which happens to be the 8th day after Christmas and thus, according to Jewish custom, the circumcision of the Lord. It also had the shortest Gospel I’ve ever experienced. I believe I actually laughed when it was over because it was quite literally six short sentences:
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
Our priest had a beautiful homily for this Gospel that genuinely touched my heart, and that in combination with the stunning view, music, and Liturgy that St. John Cantius consistently provides, I have to say it was one of my favorite masses I’ve been to recently.
Side note: If you ever are in the Chicago area and are looking for a Catholic church, I HIGHLY recommend St. John Cantius. They really get it right, and also:
The first part of this Gospel talks about the adoration of the shepherds, how their profound love for the Christ child overflowed and they immediately went out to tell everyone they could find. These are beautiful verses as they are, but one of my favorite lines is what follows:
“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
I freaking love Mary, she’s so legit and the PERFECT example of femininity. I’ll probably write more on that later, but what I want to emphasize is Mary’s heart. From the moment the angel came to her, Mary has been collecting, holding, keeping, every little thing about Jesus on her heart. She has been keeping Jesus on her heart.
And she never stops.
She watched, from the very beginning, how willing Jesus was to save us. She was the witness to His heart, and saw all the glory, all the pain, all the suffering that Jesus ever experienced for our sake. She understood the powerful, irrevocable love He has for us more intimately than we could ever hope to realize. Our priest talked about how , because of Mary’s unique role and understanding of the heart of Christ, we should ask her to help us see how much He loves us.
That thought had never crossed my mind.
Sure, I had thought to ask Mary for help to teach me how to love God, but I had never asked her to help me understand how much God loves me. It had never occurred to me to think about God’s love for me – I was far too concerned with how I was falling short in my love for Him.
Luckily, the homily gave me my first opportunity to contemplate this love on my heart. Jesus’s circumcision takes up one short sentence in the Gospel, but, like so much of the Bible, it’s infinitely bigger on the inside. The priest talked about how, in the circumcision, Jesus shed one drop of blood. Even as a baby, that one drop of blood had the salvific power necessary to save all of mankind.
Let me say that again. The single drop of blood shed by God at His circumcision was sufficient to save all mankind for eternity.
Yet, out of a love deeper than any of us could ever hope to know, He chose to spill all of it. He chose to lead us to salvation by pouring his entire heart out for us.
Our God didn’t want us to have enough. He wanted us to have it all.
THIS. This is Love.