Kept in the heart – Solemnity of the Mother of God

“And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”

Catholics often repeat Gabriel’s message to the virgin at the beginning of this season: Hail Mary, full of grace…

Is that what I’m full of: grace?

Adam and Eve managed to sin without the effects of original sin to deprive them of grace, so I think I am safe to reason that Mary, although likewise free from original sin by virtue of her immaculate conception, was free to consciously choose to allow that grace to remain within her. I think that part of that choice was in choosing what to keep in her heart and reflect upon.

I suppose Mary could have kept all sorts of other things in her heart upon which to reflect. It is not difficult to imagine that there might have been some raised eyebrows at her claim to have conceived by the Holy Spirit; she could have reflected upon that.

And the difficult journey to Bethlehem.

And the fate of this child of hers who is God.

And what it meant that a sword would pierce her heart also.

And the occupying Romans. And the violent rebels.

And the burden of being entrusted with the most important child ever born upon the earth.

And the awesomeness of being, herself, something unique in the universe.

And, and, and…

What do have I kept in my heart? What do I reflect upon in the place where only God and I can see?

Do I hide unwholesome things there?

Do I harbour fear, or shame, or jealousy?

Do I allow worry to dwell in my heart?

Am I filled with pride, or with self-loathing?

Do I reflect upon the headaches of the Christmas season?

Do I get the pre-work grumpies as I think about returning from vacation?

Or do I reflect upon grace and goodness? Do I celebrate that God is with us? Do I, like the shepherds, go back out into the world glorifying and praising God because I have seen the Christ-child born?

It is no accident that the church gives us this opportunity at the start of each new year to consider what Mary reflected upon. It is a chance for us to consider what we hold in our own hearts and reflect upon. If, like Mary, we keep these good things in our hearts, and like the shepherds, we go out in to the new year glorifying and praising God, then it will indeed be a very happy and spiritually prosperous new year for us, and for those whom we encounter.

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