Octave Day of Christmas and Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

January 1, 2017 / By: Dominic Longo

“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Lk 2.20)

Here we find a model for faith, a model for living in the awareness of God, a model for now. Today, the Octave Day of Christmas, is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We have been celebrating the mystery of God’s embodiment for a full week now. We recognize Mary’s body as the place where God came into our world in an astounding way. Like the Holy of Holies, the Ark of the Covenant, Mary in carrying Jesus within her miraculously holds the presence of God—Emmanuel, the One who abides with us.

This Octave of Christmas we reflect on the mystery and the wonder of the inbreaking of the Divine into the world in an utterly amazing way. Mary, pregnant with Jesus, is therein the model of us as Church. She holds God’s presence, nourishes within herself the One who is Love. Mary, birthing Jesus, is therein the model of us as Church. She brings forth the presence of God and makes concrete and real in the world His Love.

In the Gospel reading for today, the pregnancy and the birth are already complete. Mary and Joseph are there together with the infant, who lies in a manger. She watches this miraculous child. She witnesses his presence. She will continue to witness him throughout his life. In this witness, Mary is once again the model of us as Church. We attend to the workings of God in our world. Amazed, attuned, and reflective, we hold so many thing in our hearts as we watch and wonder.

Today is New Year’s Day, the beginning of this year that we number two thousand and seventeen. In this country this is the month of the transfer of power from one president to the next. As in any beginning, 2017 is full of uncertainty. Will this year bring war in new conflicts, or peace to old conflicts? Will racism or Islamophobia or other bigotry grow in our society this year, or will we collectively recognize and acknowledge the human dignity of more people this year? What wonders will God work in these uncertain times in our own hearts and in our society?

Dominic Longo, Assistant Professor, Department of Theology and Director, Muslim-Christian Dialogue Center