Mary’s Good Memory: A Homily for the New Year

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By Matt Janeczko, OFM Cap.

I recently came across a remark that Pope Francis made to a group of Brazilian bishops.  In speaking about their ministries, Francis quipped, “Ask for the grace, ask the Virgin for the grace, she who had a good memory; ask for the the grace to preserve the memory of this first call (emphasis added).”*

It’s such a fascinating thing to say, really: Mary possessing a good memory.  This does not mean, of course, that Mary had only good memories.  A shocking visit from an angel, a flight into Egypt, holding her son’s broken body after it had been taken down from the cross.  These cannot, by any measure, be considered positive. Yet, Mary’s good memory is two-fold.

(1) When Luke writes that Mary pondered “these things” – the events of the nativity – in her heart, he uses a word in Greek that indicates she turned and mulled things over.  It almost has the sense of a debate: yes, Mary struggled, pondered, and churned. She wondered, she hoped, and she feared.  In this sense, then, she had a good memory, in that she took note of exactly what the Lord was up to in her life.

At the same time, however, (2) Mary possessed a good – no, a great memory.  She possessed the good memory of God’s love. She contained within herself her Savior and this knowledge, this memory, in and of itself, allowed her to continue come whatever would.

Perhaps we are called today not to a resolution for the new year; perhaps we are not even called, first and foremost, to reflect upon the past year.  Rather, it is possible that we are called to a resolution on this day, this Solemnity of Mary: we are called this day to resolve our lives in such a way that they center on the Good Memory of Mary – the Word become Flesh.

In other words, perhaps today isn’t about our resolutions that we’ll drop after a week; maybe it is really about the resolution that God has, and will always, keep: God among us, come what may.

* Pope Francis, Homily for the Mass with the Brazilian Bishops, 27 July 2013 in The Church of Mercy, 58,

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