Following in Mary’s Footsteps

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8 September 2017

Mt 1:18-23
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew

She has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit.
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,

a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.

Today we celebrate the birth of Mary, 9 months from the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception celebrates the time when Mary was conceived, by the power of Jesus death and resurrection, without original sin.

Sometimes I think that Mary had an advantage over the rest of us because she did not have the propensity to choose sin that we do. Presumably Mary wouldn’t have had to resist the temptation to gossip, or to pride. She had it easy!

I am not serious, of course.

God prepared Mary to be the bearer of Jesus; He equipped Mary for the excruciating pain of the task ahead. It is not my path to suffer as Mary did, watching as her son was rejected and tortured. Mine is a more ordinary contribution to make to the Kingdom of God. But I can have confidence that God will give me every good thing that I need to walk my path, considering that he was willing to go to such extraordinary lengths for Mary. If I wish to be more like her, all of the resources I need are here already, in the gift of the Holy Spirit and the Sacraments of the Church.

Mary, first follower of Christ, point me towards your Son! Help me to be open, as you were, courageous, as you were. St Joseph, faithful companion of Mary and Jesus, pray for us.

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