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Homily – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God, Year A
Numbers 6:22-27
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21
January 1, 2014

God is instructing Moses to have Aaron and his sons, who serve as the priests, to offer a special blessing for the people.  They are in the desert, set free from slavery in Egypt.  It is now time for them to begin the next leg of their journey towards the Promised Land.  As they prepare to go, God offers this blessing.

January 1st marks the beginning of a new year on our secular calendar.  This is seen as a new beginning, a time to celebrate and a time to make changes in our lives.  People make resolutions to do things that will make them better people.  Some people will even keep their New Year’s resolutions!

Our faith is a faith of new beginnings and it is good to make resolutions to become better people but we are not here to make the beginning of the new secular year.  There is nothing wrong with celebrating the New Year.  It just isn’t why the church calls us to come together to celebrate Mass today.

While we are not here to celebrate the beginning of a new year, we are here to celebrate a new beginning in time, the birth of our Savior Jesus.

Christmas day is December 25th but it is too important to celebrate with a single day.  It marks Jesus’ birth as a turning point in Salvation History.  It marks a new beginning of what it means to have faith in God.

So, we will celebrate the season of Christmas until the Baptism of the Lord that falls on January 12th this year but today marks a special point in our Christmas season.

Today is the eighth day since the birth of Jesus.  On the eighth day, the Jewish customs called the parents to take their newborn son to the temple for circumcision.  This is exactly what Mary and Joseph do as good Jewish parents.

Mary’s role as mother of Jesus did not end with Jesus’ birth.  Mothers have a role to play throughout the life of their children and Mary was no exception.

Mary remained with Jesus throughout his life, even being there at the foot of the Cross.  Mary truly was mother of Jesus.

Mary truly was mother of Jesus.  She said yes once at the Annunciation but it really became a lifetime of yesses.      Could Mary have ever imagined all that would happen?

We are told that when the shepherds came to see the baby Jesus and told her what the angel had said, we are simply told that Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

We don’t know what Mary thought at that moment.  Maybe she understood it all or maybe it was too much to take it all at once.  Mary listened and reflected with a peaceful heart.

Here lies the place where I think our celebration of the Holy Day honoring Mary in our Christmas season and the celebration of our new secular year can come together.  We can ask ourselves what it means to be a people of peace.

I said “I think” but it is not an original thought of mine.  In 1968, Pope Paul VI declared January 1st as a day to pray for peace.  Since then, each year the pope has written a message of peace for this day.  Pope Francis is continuing this tradition.

We can reflect on what peace means for us individually in our hearts and what peace would mean across the world.  The two are not exclusive.

For example, if we get away from materialism and obsession of things, we can have a more peaceful heart and in lessening our consumption of goods, those who do not have enough may have more and not need to fight for enough.

What can you do in your life to find peace?

 

 

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