The word we chose to focus on for January is "ponder." This seems so appropriate, now that the rush of the holiday season is behind us, the Christmas tree is gone and the all the wrapping paper and decorations are put away.
There is so often a feeling of let down after the holidays. It can be difficult to transition from all the hype and happiness, the bright lights and happy expectations, to the somber, cold and sobering reality of January. But if we can form the habit of pondering, then we can begin to ask ourselves The Serious Question: Did this Christmas make a difference in my life? Did the celebration of the birth of the Messiah change me in some small way? Or did I miss the Incarnation?
The good news is that we can remember the words that Scripture uses to describe Mary after she Jesus' birth. The Gospel of Luke tells us that at the time of Jesus' birth:
There were shepherds residing in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks by night. 9Just then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid! For behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people: 11Today in the city of David a Savior has been born to you. He is Christ the Lord! 12And this will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13And suddenly there appeared with the angel a great multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and
"Mary treasured up all of these things and pondered them in her heart." This simple statement means that Mary herself did not completely understand all that she was experiencing, even though she knew her son was the Son of God. The important thing to note was her reaction. She treasured these experiences. Then, she pondered them. She reflected on them. She turned the words of the shepherds and her own eperiences over in her head. She thought about how they all fit in with Scripture, which she knew very well. She did not grow impatient but gave herself time and space to sit with what she did not fully understand.
That is the invitation of January. In all the excitement and emotion of modern Christmases (even Christmas during COVID), it is easy to lose sight of the small family who started it all. Our big celebrations are appropriate, to some extent, because in truth, we are not waiting for the Messiah any longer. We know he has already been born, and that is great cause for joy and celebration. We should celebrate at Christmas.
But when we experience that feeling of melancholy in January, instead of dismissing it, we should reflect on it. Although Jesus was born in history, he has not been born in the hearts of all. Our world today is still very similar to the world into which Chrst was born, over 2,000 years ago.
One of the easiest ways to join Mary in pondering is to join with her in the rosary. In January, the Winter Symbols rosary can be especially effective in guiding our reflection. This is the special rosary we have highlighted a couple of times in Januarys past. For the next few weeks, we'll take a symbol or two from this rosary and reflect with it, We'll use it as a doorwary into that holy night so many years ago so that we, too, can "treasure and ponder" the birth of Jesus in our own lives.