On the Sunday before Christmas, I was at my monthly Franciscan order Mass and formation meeting, and the Formation Director looked right at me and said, “As Catholics, each year we announce a year of favor at Christmas, so may 2020 be a year of God’s overwhelming favor and abundance for you.”
That caught my attention. I don’t know about you but I certainly want favor in the new year!
It got me thinking about how I define favor. What does it mean to have the favor of God? What does God’s favor look like? Does God’s favor mean worldly blessings or does God’s favor mean something different?
I think Mary gives us a good example of what God’s favor actually means because Scripture says that she “found favor with God.” When I reflect on the favor of God with Mary, I see these elements:
- Being singled out for God’s purposes -- a special call and role in building the kingdom of God
- Being provided for -- God always cared for and watched over her needs
- Sharing a life in communion with God -- His hand was always on her life
- Being Spirit-led -- overshadowed and covered by the Spirit
- Having experiences that behold the mystery of God and elicit spiritual treasures
Mary didn’t live an easy life. She didn’t escape suffering. She didn’t have the riches of the world. She didn’t have an elevated worldly role, and lived an ordinary, humble life. She had a special call to be Jesus’ mother, was always provided for, shared a life with Jesus, and saw God’s mysteries unfolding in her midst. She was Spirit-led -- the Spirit overshadowed her.
Beyond that, Mary had numerous experiences of witnessing the power of God and her Son...the nativity, the wedding at Cana, the miracles, the resurrection, and so forth. These undoubtedly were spiritual treasures for Mary, molding and shaping her over time and leading her deeper into the mysteries of God. She was able to see God’s work in her midst.
When I think about my own life under this lens of favor, I realize that I, like Mary, am favored in all of these ways by God. I may not have the blessings I’ve always wanted by the world’s standards, but I am favored in different ways spiritually.
On New Year’s, I think it’s fitting that we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God because she’s a model of God’s favor for the new year. So let us ask for God’s favor and abundance in 2020, but recognize that it may look very different and more like the favor bestowed on the Mother of God.
May our lives all look a little bit more like Mary’s.