by Tony Mahoney

… its fleece was white as snow; and everywhere that Mary went, the lamb was sure to go.” So ran the Nursery Rhyme. Many readers must recollect their childhood days, singing at the top of their voice this popular rhyme. I wonder what the poet, Sarah Josepha Hale, had actually in mind. I mean who was Mary? What, or rather who was the white-fleeced lamb ?

I feel convinced that the poet had in mind Mary of Nazareth, she did have a lamb, and a pure fleeced one. The cue was given by the teacher herself when the children at school asked: “Why does the lamb love Mary so?” The teacher answered: “Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know.” Reciprocal love; love can’t be called ‘love’ if it is not shared with others.

Now, God has the blue-print prepared of each and every human being on earth, from the first created man, till the last baby yet to be born … God knows when. HE has my blue-print; how HE dreamt Tony should be, but, alas, when God compares my present image with the original blue-print, He might find that it is hardly recognizable (God forbid) through sin and human weaknesses.

The only blue-print, of a human being, which was adhered to, kept strictly to the original must have been of Mary of Nazareth. No wonder God has chosen her to be His Mother. We find Mary at the very heart of the Mystery of Salvation, and she has done this out of her free will. For this reason, we can’t see Mary apart from the child, and we can’t see the child apart from His Mother; “Ad Jesum per Mariam”.

The mystery of the Incarnation only yields its full meaning, through the full cooperation and humble willingness of her, whom Tradition calls “Theotokos”. Today’s world needs to rediscover the face of its Saviour and of His Mother. The world is glutted with philosophies and ideologists which, no matter what they have to offer, do not answer its most vital need, its most fundamental questions.
To our contemporary world Mary offers the living and vibrant reality, the Incarnate Saviour of the world. She offers overwhelming proof that Christ is not, as some imagine, a ‘part God and a part man’, but He is wholly divine and totally human. Mary is the safeguard of the realism of the Incarnation. (L.J. Suenens)

As a Historical Note we have in this Gospel Text, Jesus as a baby undergoing three ancient rites which every Jewish boy had to undergo, namely Circumcision, Redemption of the Firstborn, and the Purification. These three ceremonies are strange old ceremonies, but all three have at the back of them the conviction that a child is always a gift of God. As parents we are all answerable to God for the ‘gift of every child’.