The feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God is one of the greatest feasts in the Church calendar. This is also the day that the whole world celebrates the World Day of Peace; peace in our hearts, in our communities, our Churches, our Nations, the World.
What a great feast day, let us rejoice and celebrate.
As I prayed and pondered on the readings of this great feast day, three themes stood out for me; the theme of Blessings, Hope and Peace of God
In the first reading, the Lord instructs Moses about blessings, blessings for the Israelites for us too, for we are the adopted daughters and sons of God through God’s Son Jesus, born of Mary.
Be still and let God bless you anew this day and always. In Psalm 67 we are assured of these blessings that extend to all the peoples of the earth.
In the Second reading, we witness God’s great love for us; that God sent Jesus, born of Mary to come and dwell among us. This shows how much God loves us and cares for us. Through Jesus’ paschal mystery we are no longer slaves but co-heirs with Jesus and God who is Abba, our Creator.
As we ponder on this second reading, we are invited to hold onto this message of hope -- that God chooses Mary, a woman from a humble beginning, a woman who was lowly in people’s eyes, to carry and give birth to Jesus the Saviour of the world, the bridge builder, bearer of Good News, the one who proclaims the year of God’s favour, our true peace, Emmanuel – God with us.
What therefore does it mean for Jesus to dwell among us in our world today?
Our world that demonstrates hatred, greed, bad governance, inequality, all forms of violence towards each other, and towards God’s environment; a world full of exclusion especially of those forced to migrate from their countries, those that are different from us. What does it mean for Jesus to dwell in our homes and Churches that exemplifies exclusion, especially of women, at the different tables of fellowship and communion; a world that experiences different forms of abuses whether physical or socio-economic. What does it mean for Jesus to dwell in our homes and Churches where modelling of the Gospel values no longer appeal to its members? Let us pause and ponder on this and indeed become a people of hope.
Some of the thoughts that we are invited to ponder on can be addressed by listening carefully to the Gospel reading of today, Luke 2:16-21. In this reading we see an innocent, helpless child lying in a manger, with His mother Mary listening to all that the shepherds are saying of this child, keeping all these things and pondering them in her heart.
How often do we listen and ponder these things in our hearts in this busy and materialistic world?
What can we learn from Jesus’ lowly and uneventful birth? What can we learn from God’s action of choosing a woman, whom we, in our world will refer to as a nobody, to carry in her womb, Jesus – God’s loving son? What can we learn from God’s choice of shepherds, who are the poorest in the society, shepherds who smell of sheep to be the first bearers of the Good News?
Let us pause and ponder on this great act of God.
How do I receive those that I consider irrelevant, a nuisance, those that are different from me, the refugees, the migrants, the poor and marginalized? The Marys and Shepherds of our world today.
In today’s Alleluia acclamation we are reminded that God no longer speaks to us through our ancestors or prophets but through Jesus, God’s son. Therefore, let us in the silence of our hearts choose a quiet place and ponder deeply on the message of today’s readings.
I pose the following questions for us to ponder today:
Have we paused to ponder in our heart that the poor in our midst is Jesus;
That migrant risking their life at our borders is Jesus;
That woman that we exclude in our home and Church table of fellowship is Jesus;
The beggar in our street, with outstretched hand is Jesus;
The stranger that does not look like me, does not share my culture, my aspirations, my dream is Jesus;
That ‘child’ lying peacefully in a manger, wrapped in swaddling cloths of poverty, marginalization, smell of sheep, hatred, corruption, violent extremism, different forms of violence and abuses is Jesus crying out to be cuddled, embraced, fed, and lifted up; that child is asking for forgiveness.
Let us pray and ask God to bless us, to give us the grace to embrace the Gospel values, to be bearers of God’s Good News, to be like Mary to bring Christ to others and especially to our ailing world.
God our Creator,
Please shine your face upon us,
Shine your face on our beautiful world and its people
God of our salvation be gracious to us
Give us true peace that like Mary the mother of your Son and our Mother
We may be open to receive your Son, Jesus in our hearts and in our midst
Come Lord Jesus,
Emmanuel – God with us,
Come and dwell among us anew
Until we become like you, until we become like you,
WAMŨYŨ TERESIA WACHIRA, IBVM
Wamũyũ Teresia Wachira is a Kenyan and member of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary (IBVM), commonly known as the Loreto Sisters. She attained her PhD in Peace Studies on “Experiences of violence in schools in Kenya”from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom; a Master’s degree in Applied Theology Peace and Justice Studies from Middlesex University, United Kingdom; and Bachelor’s degree in Education from Kenyatta University, Nairobi, Kenya.
She has been a teacher and principal in Loreto schools in Kenya, specializing in the education of young women and training them for peacemaking and reconciliation work. Currently she is a Senior Lecturer and Programme Leader of the Peace and Conflict studies at St Paul University (an ecumenical private university) in Nairobi, Kenya. She is a member of the Board of Pax Christi International, the global Catholic peace movement. She also serves as a member of the Advisory Committee of the IBVM – United Desk, New York; the co-coordinator of the Loreto Eastern Africa Province Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) committee; and as an active member of the steering committee of the Catholic Nonviolence Initiative.
As a peacebuilder, she is interested in building a culture of peace especially among youth; working with women both at the grassroots and policy making levels; peacebuilding with the Catholic Women Associations and also Catholic Men Associations in both in the rural and urban areas of Kenya. She is also an active advocate for children’s rights, gender equality, the termination of female genital mutilation, and for just peace approaches (active nonviolence) to addressing violence in today’s context.
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