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Gospel for Monday, January 01: Luke 2:16-21

Feast of Mary Most Holy Mother of God

16They went, without delay, and found Mary and Joseph and the child, lying in the manger. 17And after seeing it, they reported what had been told them about the child. 18All who heard were amazed at the things the shepherds told them. 19Maria, for her part, kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as they had been told. 21When the eight days prescribed for circumcision were completed, his name was given to him, Jesus, as he had been called by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”

Lk 2:16-21

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather ( Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

We have already meditated several times on today’s passage (cf. Today we want to reflect on the significance of today’s Feast, dedicated to Mary Mother of God.

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C. MIGLIETTA, THE FAMILY ACCORDING TO THE BIBLE. The biblical foundations of family life, Gribaudi, Milan, 2000, with an introduction by Cardinal Severino Poletto

Mary, Woman of Listening

Mary is a woman of listening to his Word and of faith: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19); “her mother kept all these things in her heart” (Lk 2:51); she is a woman of total obedience: “Let it be done to me as you have said” (Lk 1:38); “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5): she is thus type of the true disciple. Her greatness lies precisely not so much in her physical motherhood as in her full following of God: “Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of the words of the Lord” (Lk 1:45; cf. 11:27-28; Mt 12:47-49)…

Mary, example of a mother

Mary is an example of a mother who is not apprehensive: in the famous episode of Jesus among the doctors, she looks for her son only after a day of his absence, “believing him to be in the caravan” (Lk. 2:44): how many of us would not have moved earlier, perhaps even going to have a look, to see if our son needed anything? When she finds him again, she has no problem rebuking him, gently but firmly: this is something that biblical commentators generally leave out, embarrassed. But Mary is very adamant in reminding Jesus that his “flight” was an offense against family harmony: “Son, why have you done this to us?” (Lk 2:48): note that “us,” which emphasizes that Jesus’ act had precise implications on the family, becoming a source of “distress” for the parents… Then Mary shows herself to be a delicate wife, putting Joseph’s anxiety before her own in her rebuke of Jesus: “Behold, your father and I, distressed, were looking for you” (Lk 2:48).

However, Mary is a non-possessive mother, ready to accept the mystery of her son’s vocation even without understanding it: “When they saw him they were amazed…. They did not understand his words” (Lk 2:48, 50). Throughout Jesus’ public life, Mary will remain “on the outside in the background” (Mt 12:46), so as not to interfere with her son’s mission.

Even she, the model of the obedient disciple who guards the Word of God (Lk 1:38; 2:19.51), does not hesitate to stand in solidarity with the other sinful family members who want to go and get Jesus to take him away, believing him to be insane (Mk 4:21.31): she is the mother who stands with those in the family who are weaker, more in difficulty, even sharing their wrong choices, but sure that it is only through love and solidarity that conversion can be hoped for. One thinks of the drama of parents who see their children give themselves to drugs, vice, gambling, set themselves on the path of delinquency and moral disorder, and who are torn in doubt whether to kick them out, whether to break bridges with them, or whether to continue to welcome them, to support them, to forgive them: in this society where parents, concerned about their own good name, often disregard their delinquent children, Mary shows us that she is not afraid to lose her honorability in order to continue to be with those family members who are truly most in need.

Mary, figure of Israel and the Church

The episode at Cana (Jn. 2:1-12) should undoubtedly be read as the revelation of the awaited Messiah, the Bridegroom of Israel: Mary, the “woman,” is the new Eve, “mother of the living,” at once a figure of faithful Israel and the Church. But, on a more literal level, Mary’s solicitude for two newlyweds who are in danger of having their feast ruined by the lack of wine is striking, as is her great faith in the possibilities that her Son can work a miracle; Jesus’ refusal to involve her in his earthly mission (“What have I to do with you, O woman? “: Jn. 2:4), and Mary’s resolute call to obedience to Jesus (“Do whatever he tells you”: Jn. 2:5): and after all, Jesus then … obeys Mother!

We find Mary again on Calvary: here too, beyond the symbolic values, we observe how Mary, who had no part in her Son’s glorious moments, is instead in solidarity with him in the hour of supreme suffering. John renders this sharing with a very strong expression, “They stood by the cross…” (Jn. 19:25); “They stood” (“eistékeisan”): a verb that expresses continuity, perseverance in sharing, and that the great Christian tradition will always emphasize (think of the famous hymn, repeatedly set to music, of the “Stabat Mater”).

Mary, Mother of the Church

And there, in that tragic context, Mary’s motherhood is given to the Church, represented by the beloved disciple, who from that moment took her “eis tà ìdia” (Jn. 19:27), an expression that does not so much mean, as we usually translate, “in her house” or “with herself,” but more properly “among her most cherished things,” “among her most specific possessions”: the motherhood of Mary, extended to all believers, is one of the immense gifts of the Crucified One.

Finally we find Mary, with the “brothers of Jesus,” in the early Church “all assiduous and concordant in prayer” (Acts 1:14): and with the early community she will receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4): she is a woman of community life and prayer.

Mary, example of holiness in the everyday

But above all, Mary is an example to us for a holiness of the everyday. For us lay people, immersed in the myriad worries of family life, amidst bills to pay and a leaky faucet, amidst condominium assemblies and conversations with our children’s teachers, Mary is a model of a holiness lived out not in striking gestures, but in humility and hiddenness, in the feriality of toil offered to God: that holiness which, as Francis de Sales used to say, consists in “doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” and which characterizes the spirituality of so many of our contemporaries, from Thérèse of Lisieux to Charles de Foucauld, to so many unknown mothers and fathers who certainly made themselves saints in the banality of their daily lives, even if they never found those who had the time and money to plead their cause for official beatification on the altars. .. Indeed, the Council tells us, “The perfect model of such a spiritual and apostolic life is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who, while she lived on earth the life common to all, full of family solicitude and work, was always intimately united with her Son, and cooperated in an altogether singular way in the work of the Savior” (Apostolicam Actuositatem, no. 4).

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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