Mother of God
Opening Question: Did you ever think it was the right time for something to happen? What was it? Why was it the right time?
First Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
When the time was right, God sent his Son into the world. He was born of a woman and he was born under the Jewish Law, so he could save those condemned by the Law. Now we can receive adoption as God’s sons and daughters. Because we are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts; the Spirit makes us shout, “Abba, Father!” You aren’t slaves to sin any longer. If you are God’s children, you are also heirs to his Kingdom because of what he did for us.
Jimmy just knew it. He could sense it. The right time. He was up at bat. The bases were loaded. Two outs. His team was down by three runs. If he could just hit a homer, a grand slam, he could win the game. And he knew he would.
“Nice shoes,” the catcher said to Jimmy, “does your mother shine them for you?” He laughed. Jimmy said nothing. He didn’t swing on the first pitch. It was a slider that just missed home plate.
“Ball one,” the umpire yelled.
The catcher wasn’t done yet. “Oooo, your uniform is so crisp. I bet your mom my irons it for you.” The next pitch came. Jimmy swung, but missed on another slider.
“Strike one,” the umpire snorted.
“Missed that one, miss the next one, bat boy,” the catcher taunted Jimmy. He swung low, connected with the ball, but fouled it away.
“Strike two,” the empire bellowed.
“This is it, the last pitch of the game,” the catcher said with glee.
“Yep,” Jimmy said.
The pitcher got his sign, wound up and heaved the ball. Jimmy set and swung. He connected. He dropped his bat and ran toward first base. The cheer from the crowd made him look up to see the ball sail over the fence. As he trotted past first base on to second, he smiled. He just knew he would win the game. And he did.
Sometimes we know the time is right for something important to happen. At the right time, a woman named Mary bore a son she named Jesus. Because of what he did, we became his brothers and sisters, because we were adopted by his Father, God. Because she said “yes” to God, we, too can say “yes” to him. At the right time.
Bridge Question: Have you ever heard something that made you happy? What was it?
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21
After they heard the message of the angels, the shepherds rushed to the place they were told about. They found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When the shepherds saw the couple with the baby, they told Mary and Joseph everything the angels told them about this child. Everyone who heard the message the shepherds related were in awe. But, Mary kept the message like a treasure in her heart. Then, the shepherds returned home. Along the way, they praised God for everything they heard and saw. It was just like the angels told them.
Eight days after Jesus was born, he was circumcised and was given the name “Jesus.” This was the name the angel gave him before he was conceived in his mother’s womb.
Jacob walked beside his father. They said nothing for awhile. They spent a long, happy night together. This night his father wanted him to help tend the flocks. The cold night air nipped at his cheeks; as he laid on the grass, he could see the steam rise from his breath. The moonless sky was crystal clear; he saw so many stars he lost count. He began to doze off, when, suddenly, the sky flashed as bright as day. He opened his eyes and saw the heavens filled with, he couldn’t believe it, with angels! They all sang praises to God for the birth of a new king. One of them spoke directly to the shepherds. “He spoke to me,” Jacob thought.
Wide eyed, his father pulled Jacob up. “Son, we really have to see what God’s messenger spoke about.” Jacob could hardly keep up with his father as they made their way out of the hills and down to Bethlehem.
“Abbi, what do you think we’ll see?” Jacob asked.
“I don’t know,” his father replied huffing. “But, with God involved, I know it will be special.”
For over an hour they walked, In town, they asked friends and strangers alike about the new babe; they told them about the angel’s message. Friends were bewildered. Most strangers turned away, thinking they were crazy. Just as they walked towards the edge of town, Jacob saw a light from a cave and pointed in its direction. “Abbi, maybe the people over there know.” When they entered the barn cave, they saw a family: a proud man, his wife and a helpless infant. Jacob shrieked, “This is it, Abbi! This is the baby the angel talked about.”
Jacob and his father were so excited when they told the family about the message, they talked over each other, finishing each other’s sentences. The mother smiled and silently nodded her head. When they finished, Jacob’s father turned to the man and asked, “What’s the boy’s name?”
The responded with one word, “Jesus.”
Jacob turned to his father and whispered out loud, “It means ‘God saves.’”
His father smiled and said in a similar voice, “I know, Jacob, I know.”
They walked back to their flocks happy. Finally, Jacob’s father turned to him, “Son, you’ll never see anything like that again.”
Jacob stopped. “But will I see Jesus again.”
That made his father think, “I think so, Jacob.”
The story of Mary and the angels was the beginning of the Good News. Poor people like Jacob and his father heard God’s message and those words gave them hope. Let God’s message give us hope for the New Year.
Ending Question: What do you look forward to this new year? How can prayer help you give you hope?