As we begin the gift of this new year we do well to pause and reflect on our “Christian life,” and to do so on this feast of Mary, the Mother of God, who lived fully the life of discipleship. According to Fr. James J. Bacik, author of the book “Contemporary Theologians,” there are four essential aspects of Christian living.
1. Reading the Scriptures! Revelation, the word of God, is the compass for the Christian life. As we ponder the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament we come to an understanding of the truths of our faith. Today we hear in Luke how Jesus was born and consecrated to the Lord; St. Paul instructs us about the designated time and how Jesus came, born of a woman and under law, and set us free and made us heirs of the kingdom; in the book of Numbers, we learn how to bless one another and live in God’s presence.
In the Gospel acclamation we have the essence of our feast: “In the past, God spoke to our fathers through the prophets; now he speaks to us through his Son” (Heb 1:1-2). Because Mary said yes to the word of God, now we are given the Word.
2. Participating in the liturgy! We gather in communal prayer to worship and praise God. Through the word we, like Mary who treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart, are called to a contemplative spirit. With loving attention we adhere to God’s word and then go to the altar to celebrate Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
3. Spreading the love of the world! And we might add justice! Mary was given the child Jesus and immediately she shared him with the world on the day of his circumcision. Jesus reveals the mystery of God. It is love that makes the world go around; it is love that brings meaning into life.
4. Reflecting theologically! One of the lessons that Fr. Karl Rahner (1904-1984) left the world is that in the ordinary events of daily life — working, playing, eating, sleeping, speaking — there is a “depth dimension.” God is at work, but we have to reflect upon our ordinary experience to see the working of grace. This what Mary did — treasuring and reflecting on God’s action in her life.
The new year offers another opportunity to recommit ourselves to Christian living — pondering God’s word, gathering in communal worship to thank and praise God, reaching out in love and justice to those in need, reflecting seriously on God’s working in our life. A noble task and one filled with meaning.
Questions for reflection
1. What role do the Scriptures play in your life?
2. What is the quality of your worship?
3. How do you spread love and justice in the world?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.