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Honoring Mary, Mother of God at Christmas – Homily

Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21
January 1, 2017

One week ago we celebrated Christmas day but our Christmas season continues until next week.  Today marks the eighth day of Christmas and on eighth day, we celebrate Mary in her role as Mother of Jesus, which means she is the Mother of God.

Our gospel picks near where our Christmas gospel ended.  On Christmas we heard how Mary and Joseph had gone to Bethlehem for the census.  While they were there, the “fullness of time” came for Mary to give birth to Jesus.  It happened in a stable as we see in our Nativity scene.

Then the angel appeared to the shepherds to tell them of the birth of the Messiah.  That is where we left off on Christmas Day.

Today we hear the response of the shepherds.  Upon hearing the angel’s words, they “went in haste to Bethlehem” to see Jesus.

There “they made known the message” that the angel had given them.  People were amazed at these words.  What was Mary’s reaction?

We might think that Mary knew everything that was to happen but she didn’t.  The angel Gabriel had told her that she had been chosen to be the Mother of Jesus and that she would conceive by the power of the Most High but she was given no details of what life would be like with Jesus.  She simply trusted that God would take care of them.

So, Mary took the words delivered by the shepherds and reflected “on them in her heart.”  Then on the eighth day, Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple as good Jewish parents.

Have you reflected on the words of our Christmas story?  It is a story of the birth of Jesus.  The birth of Jesus is an important story but it is not the whole story.  It is the beginning of our salvation.  Jesus, Son of God, has been “born of a woman, born under the law.”

As we reflect on the mystery of the Incarnation we honor Mary as the one through whom we received the author of life, the greatest Christmas gift.

Today is also a World Day of Prayer for Peace and Justice.  This fits with the beginning of a new secular year as we hope for peace in the New Year.

When we look at “peace” in this context, we might see peace simply as the absence of violence.  That is certainly something we seek but in the context of our faith, “peace” is something we receive from God in our hearts.

The Hebrew word for “peace” used in the first reading is “shalom.”  Shalom is not simply an absence of violence.  It involves happiness, health, prosperity, and friendship.  It involves these things not just as physical and/or earthly peace but in our heart and soul.

Here we turn to reflect upon what it means to receive God’s blessing.  God offers us a good life through his blessing but what is a good life?

I think some people give up on faith because they don’t get the life they want.  Now, we should all pray for a life free of war, violence, illness, and full of prosperity but life is more than these things.  These people think if they don’t get these things, it means God doesn’t exist.

If we are truly open to receiving “the author of life” then we need to open ourselves to seeing our lives as God sees them.  We need to stop measuring goodness and success in our lives by merely physical terms.  In physical terms, we might always want more.

Receiving “the author of life” transforms our world view to look at things differently.  To do so we need to make God our highest priority.  Do you?  It isn’t easy.  There can be so many demands on our lives.  Some people have to work even on Sundays.  If you have kids, there can be activities scheduled even on Sundays now.  Are those activities really that important?

For the adults, think back to when you were young.  Were you involved in so many things?  If not, then why now?

For the youth, you might enjoy doing these things but do they make your life any better?  How busy are you?  Do you ever relax?  Do you ever think about Jesus?

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