ISAIAH 61:9-11; LUKE 2:41-45

That it was a unique and surpassing privilege for Mary to be the Mother of Jesus is a firm and strong conviction of faith for all true Catholics.   At the same time, early on in our Lord's life, forty days after his birth in the flesh to be exact, Mary was told by the prophet Simeon that "a sword will pierce your heart".   His prophecy was soon fulfilled when Jesus' life was threatened and Mary was forced to flee to Egypt along taking her Son with her and Joseph to preserve his life.

The first reading today is that of a later follower of the prophet Isaiah who wrote under the name of his earlier master and stresses the joy consequent upon the intervention of God in the life of His chosen people.   The fuller cause of this joyful gratitude for God's intervention is disclose only later, and in prominent in the Gospel of Luke.   Mary expressed it most enthusiastically in her Magnificat while she was pregnant with Her Son.

The Gospel from Luke that we have just heard depicts, on the contrary, a very anxiously painful experience for Mary.   She suffers from having lost him, a twelve year old child, while on pilgrimage to the Holy City.   Luke expresses her fears with the brief comment "Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.  " Behind these words surely was much fear for the safety of her Son lost, as she thought, amidst the large crowds of people assembled in the big city.

This event was to mark a new relationship with her Son for when she found him he displayed a surprising independence of disposition.   He no longer was her dependent child.   Rather, he displayed a strong confidence in hiss heavenly Father, revealing a fresh independence of attitude.

We are invited to follow Mary's example and to take to heart our Lord's total concern for his Father's will.   Mary herself could not understand the implications of Jesus' words until later.   But by keeping them in her heart she was able to follow where he led.   May we imitate her example.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger