January 1, 2019 [ mary mother of god ]
• Numbers 6:22-27 • Psalm 67 • Galatians 4:4-7 • Luke 2:16-21 •
Title: In Between. 2018-2019. Mary Mother of God.
[_01_] In the wild, and in nature, we see that animals and birds spend a lot of their time searching for food – sometime called “foraging”. They are seeking and finding nourishment.
And, in one report, I read that a bird might spend 75% of its time looking for food. This is not just in Rocky Mountains or at Eagle Rock Reservation..but right here.
And, what we see – especially in birds – that they will travel miles and miles. They will fly miles and miles between looking for their next meal. Amazing and without GPS!
Recently, on a Sunday morning, a flock of birds landed here at Our Lady of Lourdes. They were actually at the Grotto where there is the lawn and many trees and, I imagine, some berries and blossoms. There were hundreds, maybe thousands of birds. They were foraging, looking for food.
And, typical of this location with many trees, in between the buildings. And, typical of this season, between winter + spring.
This is an in-between time of year. While the birds know that food is scarce, I imagine they have been here before.
[_02_] In between.
In between, we are in between – in time & chronology between 2018 and 2019.
You might say, hey it’s already 2019. The souvenirs say 2019 and soon the calendar will as well.
But, mentally, at least for a while, I know that will be – accidentally writing “2018” with my signature. Maybe I’ll even write 2017. It was a fast year.
We are in balancing time between 2018 and 2019. And, for many of us - especially students and schoolchildren and parents – the new year feels more like a midpoint or a halftime show than an endpoint or the final whistle.
We are balanced between AUTUMN + SPRING semesters, in between the nice outdoor weather of AUTUMN and SPRING. We are in between our own walls because we might not be able to go out too much.
We are in between.
[_03_] So, for the blackbird and bluebirds and birds of our hemisphere, the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes is a habitat, an ecosystem, year in and year out.
There is a Grotto, a cave also in which the Jesus is in the manger and resting. It is his habitat, ecosystem. And, Mary – with Joseph – is in charge of protecting, sheltering him there. While nourishing and protecting, Mary is also attracting visitors. The shepherds are FLOCKING, they are arriving, landing. And, by adoring and contemplating his presence, they are being fed.
But, the shepherds – with their sheep – are also at an in-between, halftime – or point of change in their lives.
They are not simply at the stable – to see Jesus – so they can go back to their old lives. They are also starting a new life. They are in between.
I believe our mothers – and Mary our Blessed Mother – can teach us about this “in between” state and about starting a new life.
I’d like to touch on this in terms of our call to both GENTLENESS and to GOODNESS.
[_04_] 1st . “Our Gentleness.”
Mothers and women of faith have a great deal to share and teach their daughters and sons that real strength is not based on brute force or the overwhelming or the outrebounding of an opponent.
Do not mothers teach us – their daughters and sons – that gentleness can be both firm and tender.
[*** PAUSE ***]
I recognize we live in a world in which it seems MIGHTY POWER = RIGHT. And, in some battlefield scenarios this is the case.
But, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, I believe we can see in our mothers and women in a lour lives, the GENTLE yet FIRM ways in which they stand up for themselves and teach all of us about love of God and love of neighbor.
Jesus himself demonstrates this gentleness in his willingness to lay down his life for us. Surely, the Blessed Mother also taught him this gentleness and strength.
[_06_] Our Blessed Mother teaches about GENTLENESS which is always a high calling, even if you feel like a lowly servant.
Mothers also teach us about GOODNESS.
[_07_] 2nd. GOODNESS.
Mothers teach us about GOODNESS. Is GOODNESS desirable? I think we may need, spiritually and intentionally to press [Esc] to remind ourselves that we are called to is to be “GOOD” rather than to be sold on what is PREMIUM, SUPREME, SUPER SIZED 5 STAR, LIMITED EDITION, et cetera.
But, I suggest we are called to a simplicity and knowledge of goodness that our mothers know very well.
When God creates the world in Genesis, he calls each of his creations “good” or “very good.”.
And, in this regard “good” is sufficient. Good and goodness is our goal. Goodness is also binary. Goodness is the balance in between.
By analogy, isn’t it true that when someone forgives us of some trespass or evil we have done – really forgives us – they are not asking us to change but simply to be who we really are? Goodness is not something we discover via GPS, something we recover via G-O-D and God’s mercy.
[_08_] What about these New Year’s resolutions?
In our new year’s resolutions and sentiments what we often wish and express are the following – in our happy new year wishes – that we have a year free from illness, from pain, from trouble, that you may make plenty of money, that your tax bill will not be burdensome, that the Dow Jones Industrial Average will remain stable and the S&P 500 will not be too volatile.It’s good to pray for all of the above…but I suggest we can pray and strive for even more…and to pray + recall that -- in between our joys and our sorrows that everything in our ecosystem and our experience, everything in heaven and earthy may help us to love God and love our neighbor a little bit more. [_fin_]