Today is an extra special day—it’s the octave of Christmas (one week later), New Year’s Day, the 50th World Day of Peace, and the day we celebrate that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of God. The last one might not seem like such a big deal—we all know that Mary is God’s Mom, but for the early Church this teaching was a major breakthrough. And it’s still important for us today because Mary is our Mother, too.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
You can read the full text of this Sunday’s readings here:
The first reading is a blessing for Israel and a blessing for us. We are blessed in our continued celebration of Christmas, of the New Year and in our honoring of Mary as the Mother of God. God’s presence in our lives is always a blessing, and we need to be reminded of how God tries to give us peace in our daily lives.
The second reading reflects on the mystery of Jesus coming into the world “when the fullness of time had come.” Jesus was born into the people of the Law so that he could fulfill the law. He came as an infant, adopted by Joseph, so that we could become adopted by the Father. His becoming human elevated all humans to a new relationship with God—no longer slaves, we are children of God invited to call God “Daddy.”
The Gospel is full of activity—we have shepherds arriving to be Jesus’ first visitors and glorifying God and then taking what they experienced out to everyone they knew. We have Mary pondering all of these things in her heart, knowing that the road ahead would be as bumpy as the beginning and in awe of her love for her Son and the reverence that others are showing him. And we have the circumcision and naming of Jesus on the eighth day as was the Jewish tradition. Jesus became a member of the Covenant of God through his circumcision, as Paul says, so that he could fulfill it.
What does your Daddy mean to you? What are some of the ways that he cares for you, and what do you love about him? God wants us to think of him as our Daddy. In what ways is God like a Daddy to you?
Today’s themes are very much about family: the family of Israel is blessed by God’s presence with them on their journey, God is our adopted Father who wants to be a Daddy to us, Mary is a very important mother of Jesus and the Church. Why do you think God makes such a big deal about family relationships? What role do your family relationships play in your life?
What was it like when the first visitors came to see your newborn children? What feelings did you have when aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends came and shared the love that you had for your baby? What things about those moments did you “keep” in your heart like Mary did?
A little lectio
The ancient practice of prayerfully reflecting on bits of Scripture is known as lectio divina. Want to try it out with your family? Head over to Lectio Divina for Kids to find out how to adapt this prayer practice for your kids.
A little Bible study
Want to do a little Bible study with your kids? Here are some tips:
- During Ordinary Time, the Church pairs the Old Testament and New Testament readings in a way that each sheds light on the other. Ask your kids to look for the common theme connecting the two readings. (Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it is subtle.) How does the “dialogue” between the readings help you understand them better?
- Get a New American Bible, Revised Edition, and take a look at the footnotes for these readings. How do they change your understanding of what is going on?
- Take a look at the context for the readings—what happens before, or after?
- Read the NABRE’s introduction to the book of the Bible that the readings are taken from. How does that help you understand the readings?
- If you don’t have a copy of the NABRE at home, you can view it online at the USCCB website at the Daily Readings web page. (The link will take you to today’s reading; click forward or backward on the dates to get to Sunday’s readings.)
For even more resources for breaking open this Sunday’s readings, head over to The Sunday Website.
The image for Breaking Open the Word at Home is taken from a 17th century illuminated manuscript by an anonymous (but very talented) artist. The text is from the beginning of the Book of Sirach, chapter 1, verses 1-12, which begins: “All wisdom is from the Lord and remains with him forever.”