This is a wonderful homily by Reverend Monsignor Carl A. Kemme, Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois, preached at Blessed Sacrament Parish for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. I especially want to point out the practical advice he offers to the laity on how to increase spirituality in their ordinary lives.
“Mary kept all these things and reflected on them in her heart.”
Throughout the short season of Christmas, the Church has kept before us the story we have been listening to from the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke that scripture scholars often refer to as the infancy narratives. Throughout this sacred story, the central figures of course are those of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, but they are assisted by the secondary characters, angels, shepherds, and wise men. All of these biblical characters, I believe have at least one thing in common: they are all portrayed as being conscious of God, so spiritually aware that the events of this mystery would not escape them as it so evidently did for the vast majority of others, for whom the birth of a baby to a poor mother and father in the middle of nowhere, in of all places a manger, was an event of little or no significance. Not to Mary or Joseph, not to the shepherds, and as we shall see next Sunday, not to the wise men.
These persons possessed a keen spiritual awareness, a consciousness of God and God’s handiwork in their lives and in the world. And so we hear that the shepherds in today’s Gospel went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the child and then they went to tell others about it. They were the first evangelists, the first missionaries of the King. All the while, Mary, the icon of the Church, kept these things and reflected upon them in her heart. She would forever possess a deep spiritual awareness of the divine plan of God.
I would like to suggest that as we find ourselves here today, on the last day of 2012 and on the verge of the first day of 2013, we could do no better than to develop and foster in our personal lives, a deeper spiritual awareness, a greater consciousness of God and how God works in our lives. This spiritual awareness will not be easy because so much in our world works against it: noise, busyness, anxiety, sickness, the foreboding sense of what the future may or may not hold, the work-a-day frustrations that we all experience. All of these realities militate against that deep spiritual awareness so demonstrated in the persons of the infancy narratives.
But the challenge is placed before us nonetheless. To meet that challenge, it seems to me that we should all give more space in our daily lives to prayer, worship, silence, and study. These are the tools that will help us to become more conscious of God. More time to prayer, not just vocal prayer or memorized prayer, but prayer from the heart. Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, which is a long tradition in this parish, is a worthy and fruitful endeavor. The Church will never cease to invite us to come and adore Him, present for us, in the mystery of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Reading the Bible, slowly, thoughtfully, with devotion can also help us immerse ourselves in the things of God. Daily mass at least once during the week, in addition to Sunday Mass will bring enormous benefits to our spiritual lives. And more silence to counter the seemingly endless noise that fills our ears day by day. This alone will help us find balance and spiritual equilibrium in our hectic, fast paced world in which we live.
May I humbly offer then these pathways to greater depths of spiritual awareness, and consciousness of God? They are the paths walked by Mary, Joseph, the simple shepherds, the wise men who were so observant and attuned to God that they did not miss the mystery unfolding in their midst. Let us be like them in this new year, a year of faith keeping these things and reflecting on them in our hearts.
Because in doing so, the Lord will bless us and keep us; the Lord will let his face shine upon us and be gracious to us; the Lord will look upon us kindly and give us his peace.