The Church places before us the figure of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, as the perfect model of the Christian life – for each one of us and indeed for the entire Church herself, whom She typifies. And we remember Her very specially on this first day of the New Year, when we celebrate the feast of Mary, the Mother of God.
The Second Vatican Council reminded us that –
“Mary, a daughter of Adam, consenting to the divine Word, became the mother of Jesus, the one and only Mediator. Embracing God’s salvific will with a full heart and impeded by no sin, She devoted Herself totally as a handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of Her Son, under Him and with Him, by the grace of almighty God, serving the mystery of redemption. Rightly therefore the holy Fathers see Her as used by God not merely in a passive way, but as freely cooperating in the work of human salvation through faith and obedience. .” (cf. ‘Lumen Gentium’ ch8).
It is this total and perfect devotion to the will of God which so characterises Mary as our model, a co-operation which is offered freely to the Lord, and which comes from a Heart which is directed entirely toward the Lord, with no impediment whatsoever.
The Council Fathers place Her before us and encourage us to follow Her example – “the followers of Christ still strive to increase in holiness by conquering sin. And so they turn their eyes to Mary who shines forth to the whole community of the elect as the model of virtues.” They remind us that Her co-operation with the divine will was “through faith and obedience” – and it is precisely this which we are asked to offer in our own Christian lives. The Gospel at the Mass today offers us the clue as to how this can be done –
As for Mary, She treasured all these things and pondered them in Her Heart
Through Her perfect submission to the will of God expressed at the moment of the Annunciation, Mary brings to us the Word made flesh, the Lord who dwells among us. And from that moment forward, She is inseparable from the Lord and from His mission. The line above from the Gospel of Saint Luke makes clear that for Mary, all the events in the life of Her Son did not simply occur and then pass by, without any further thought; rather, She dwelled on them, treasuring them and pondering upon them in the depths of Her Immaculate Heart.
And in this respect, She does what each of us seek to do at Mass and in our private prayers and devotions – we treasure the events we are recalling and we ponder them within our hearts. This is especially so when we pray with the Scriptures, for here those events are most particularly recounted and brought to life within us.
In Her earthly life, Mary saw all these events with Her own eyes; She was intimately associated with the life and work of Her Son and, therefore, with those particular events which we read of in the Gospels.
As for ourselves, we can ask Her motherly assistance in obtaining for us the grace to bring all these events to life within us by means of our own personal treasuring and pondering upon them in prayer, so that one day, please God, our own faith and obedience might be rewarded.