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The visit of the shepherds


 Lk 2:16-21 16


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.


Mary’s Motherhood of God. Today, more than a month into our Church year, we are still celebrating beginnings. It is appropriate that we celebrate the beginning of a new civil year, and that we do so at prayer, and in church, and together. It is also fitting, though by no means the only possibility, that today we celebrate the woman who played such an important role in the whole pageant of Christmas.

Throughout the liturgical year, we celebrate many feasts of Mary—her Immaculate Conception, Nativity, Visitation, Assumption—and we have opportunities to revere her in other ways as well. Now we begin the year by celebrating her basic dignity, the reason for all the others: her Motherhood of God.

Whereas the shepherds, when they see and understand God’s message (v 17) become active in spreading the good news far and wide (v 18), Mary silently reflects upon the deeper meaning of the mystery (v 19). Her reflection implies a searching and a wondering as well as an acceptance. Those who are mothers have an edge on the rest of us. The deep physical and mood changes over the nine months of her pregnancy cannot be described: it can only be glimpsed at.

As Mary ponders, the questions flood in: the whys, the whats, and the hows—her mysterious pregnancy, the initial misgivings of Joseph, the birth in a cave-shelter for animals. And Mary ponders these things in her heart, not in her head. The theoretical answers of the head are of little use to the sufferer. Mary realizes now—and throughout her life she will grow in this realization—that for the follower of Jesus, suffering is a problem to be explored by the human heart.

Mary, who cooperates with God’s saving plan, is an inspiration for us disciples of Jesus who want to listen to his Good News even as it comes through the often difficult and mysterious circumstances of our lives. Whether we realize it or not, we need her for our spiritual lives. We need her tenderness, her compassion, and her intuitive love.

The year we have just begun will give many opportunities for us to live the Good News of Jesus with Mary as our inspiration. What better New Year’s resolution can we make than to adopt Mary’s stance before the Word-made-flesh: making her contemplative gaze our own and keeping the incarnate God constantly before our mind and heart.

Source: “366 Days with the Lord 2016,” ST. PAULS Philippines, 7708 St. Paul Rd., SAV, Makati City (Phils.); Tel.: 895-9701; Fax 895-7328; E-mail:; Website:

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