by Arturo Chavez

Numbers 6:22-27 | Galatians 4:4-7 | Luke 2:16-21

Mary treasured all these things and reflected on them in her heart. (Lk 2:19)

As we begin a new year, we turn to our Blessed Mother for a blessing. As our Lady of Peace, I’m sure she would use Moses’ familiar words, “May God look upon you kindly and give you peace.” Peace is always her message. As a mother, she calls each of us to truly claim our identity as a child of God.

What does it mean to live as a child of God? It means, first of all, that we are free! The same Spirit that led Jesus to his “Abba” fills our heart and sets us searching for this God-with-us, Emmanuel in our midst. This Spirit gives us sight to see God in every human being, and gives us the courage to relate to all as brothers and sisters.

Mary’s example in the Gospel teaches us to be women and men of deep prayer and conviction. When she said yes to God, she had no idea what it would mean. All of the sudden, he quiet and ordinary life gets turned upside down. She finds herself pregnant and unable to explain her condition to Joseph, who is thinking of divorcing her. Even after this is resolved, she must embark on another journey to be counted like an animal by the Roman oppressors. She and Joseph arrive as strangers in a town where there is no room for them.

Her baby is born as a displaced and homeless person. The first to see him were other migrants — poor and unclean shepherds and rich and powerful astrologers. Soon after his birth, she and her family are uprooted again by the rage of a mad king, who is threatened by the true power of a helpless, baby God. She heard Rachel’s crying as they fled — realizing that instead of her son, other mothers’ babies were ruthlessly slaughtered. As ragged refugees, she and her family arrived in Egypt — of all places — as strangers in the land where her ancestors were once enslaved. Here they hid … living among people who spoke a different language and who practiced another religion until it was safe to return home.

The journey continued for Mary as she followed Jesus. She was with him when she wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and she was there to wrap his lifeless body with his burial shroud. She will also be with us at each step. As we begin this new year, she calls us her children. Let us walk with her in peace, treasuring all things and reflecting on them in our hearts.

What image do I have of Mary? How does this affect my relationship with her in my daily journey of faith?

As I begin this new year, what specifically do I need her help with? 

*This reflection is from Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet, Awakening the Prophet Within: Reflections for Advent 2006, by Dr. Arturo Chavez.

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