Mary is presented to us in the documents of the Church as the first Christian – the first one to follow her son, Jesus. This may sound a little paradoxical, namely that the first Christian actually precedes the one whom she follows, but Mary and Christ’s lives often contain paradoxical realities such as this one.

As we begin a new year it is always a good thing to have something of a vision for the year to come and what we intend to make of it. This is particularly important from a spiritual point of view. How do I see my life growing spiritually in the year 2003? Hopefully I have a vision for this. If I do not, then maybe it is time I sat down and set about finding one – with the help of the Holy Spirit, of course!

Mary is a great model upon which to base our lives. She is always humble and unassuming. She is always ready to follow whatever it is that God is asking her to do. She does not spend time in useless rebellion against God’s will, but calmly sets about being an obedient and faithful disciple. I am also sure that she was a great mother who spent a lot of time with Jesus teaching Him what it meant to be a Jew and instructing Him in the truths of His faith.

Mary is not someone so distant from us that it is impossible to relate to her. She is a human being like us who is an example to us of what is possible if we are willing to surrender our lives into the hands of God and not worry about ourselves and what others think, but only about what God desires for her life. This is what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and we will all do well if we can follow her example.

Jesus, you gave me Mary as my Mother just before you died on the cross. Sometimes I feel distant from her. Help me to deepen in my respect for the witness of her life.

Holy Spirit, help me to get to know Mary as my Mother in a deeper way this year. Help me to listen to the example of her life and thus be able to follow Jesus more closely this year.