We start life joyful, troubles come later.
Mary expects to be married and bring up a family, and that is just what she does, but she knows that it is in God’s plan for her to marry Joseph and bear the son of God. The baby Jesus looks much like other babies, but his birth is part of God’s plan for the redemption of the world.
Today we are (at 15) more interested in career than marriage but our career activities are also part of God’s plan. With this mystery we can pray for all school leavers that they understand the importance of their lives and decisions.
Mary rushes off to the hill country to tell her cousin Elizabeth what has happened. Elizabeth is not an ordinary relative or friend, she too is unexpectedly pregnant with a baby who is part of God’s plan.
Our young people need youth clubs and chaplaincies where they can meet others who understand about God and His plan.
The baby is born, and unusual people come to the party. Landing a good job or getting your degree are cause for celebration but it is not just family and friends who come to the party. The shepherds at the nativity represent the poor, marginalised people; the wise men tell of learning that leads to truth.
Mary and Joseph go to the Temple to present their baby to God, along with an offering. In the prophecy of Simeon, the shadow of the cross touches our joy. Our efforts do not belong to us, they belong to God and they must be offered for His use. We remember this at the offertory in the Mass.
The finding in the Temple
Losing a child is a terrible trauma, but Jesus turns up safe and sound. We will probably suffer losses as we go through life – the boyfriend who finds another partner, the lost job, a serious illness. The trauma is great but a new opportunity appears and you realise with hindsight that it was all part of the plan, the recovery is better than the loss.
But that is not always the way it works out…