2 Jan 2022
Every year, the Church calls us to Bethlehem, to see the things which have come to pass; to see the Son of the Father, newly born, a little baby, in the manger; to see Him, a true child of Adam, yet born without sin; to behold His blessed Mother bending over Him; to hear the carol of the Angels and to see the Glory of the Lord as it shone for the shepherds.
Why did God fill this whole story so full of wonders which the shepherds tell us of every Christmas? Not that we might just wonder at it and go away--until we find something else to wonder at! No, but that we, like Mary, might keep all these things and ponder them in our heart. We are told more than once in the Gospels that the Blessed Virgin Mother carefully stored up all these sacred memories. When the Angel had left her at the Annunciation, she began to ponder in her heart what the Angel had said of her cousin Elizabeth, and she set out on a long journey across the mountains to see her. Meditating on God’s miraculous goodness in her life called her to action and resolve. While others were simply wondering at the shepherds' report of Christmas night, she was holding it all inside, recollecting it carefully, going over it again and again. So again, twelve years later, when the young Jesus separates Himself from His parents and stays behind in Jerusalem at the Feast of the Passover, we read that His Mother, "she kept all these sayings in her heart." As He grew up, she was always calling to mind what hints there were of His heavenly glory and the wonderful words which had been said of Him. In this way she was preparing herself, both for His sufferings and His glory, and for her own share in both.
The beginning of a new year is a time when we should think about how we have performed in the year gone by. How have we dealt with the Lord’s blessings on us and on our family and friends? Our Lord has showed us His loving wonders. Have we just wondered at them and then forgotten them or have we kept them like Mary and pondered them over and over in our heart?
Also, some of us may remember if last January we made any promises to ourselves, had any special regrets in life or misgivings about ourselves that we wanted to make up for. If we had such thoughts, we can now tell whether we made any progress on those promises or not. Do we remember what good resolutions we made then, to overcome old sins or to break bad habits? If we failed, lets now prepare ourselves to do better. It is not too late! By the Lord’s undeserved mercy we are still in this world in 2022, and it is not too late! Only remember that whatever good desires God puts into our hearts—we should remember to keep them there, cherish them, and ponder them as Mary did of the precious memories of Our Lord.
Source: Sermon XXVI.
God’s Dealings to be Pondered.
by John Keble
Bishop Edwin Tompkins