Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God
Book of Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
As a Catholic Christian community, we are so fortunate to begin the New Year by celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. This title for Mary acknowledges the two natures of her Son, our Lord Jesus, who is both Human and Divine. We celebrate Mary because she conceived and bore Jesus, and she is Jesus' most faithful disciple and our model for following Him.
In today's Gospel narrative of Saint Luke, we are invited to contemplate Jesus' birth; shepherds responding to angels and rushing to Bethlehem and beholding Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus lying in a manger. We also learn that "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." Here, Mary teaches us that being a disciple of Jesus means keeping Him in the center of our hearts and allowing His presence to guide all of our lives' thoughts, words, and actions.
From the day of her birth to the day of her death, Mary contemplated Jesus. Christian art portrays Mary as "Madonna" as she is the mother absorbed with the child at her breast. She is also the "Sorrowful Mother," the fearless follower of her Son even amid all of the persecution and false accusations. She was left almost alone at the foot of the cross, a time when most of Jesus' disciples had abandoned Him.
God the Father sent the Holy Spirit to Mary, and she became the Mother of God. God sends the Holy Spirit to us, and we become God's children, temples of God, and tabernacles of Christ when we consume Him with the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
Sisters and brothers, we begin our New Year with scripture readings that are very positive in nature. They reinforce us rather than discourage us. Unfortunately, as we look back at the challenges we faced in 2020, we can easily become discouraged with our world's direction and what to expect in 2021.
We must challenge ourselves to look forward to the opportunities to make our world a better place to live. Even as our country has been plagued with the COVID-19 pandemic, divided by political ideology, social injustice, and other factors, we are still blessed to live in a country that allows the freedoms we enjoy.
Today, we should not think of New Year's Resolutions, but we must think about New Year's Realizations.
One realization is always to remember that every one of us is unconditionally loved and blessed by God. A second realization is that we can all learn much more about what it means to be the sons and daughters of God. To attend Mass (when possible to do so safely) and receive the Holy Eucharist. To receive the gift of forgiveness through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. And, most importantly, to turn your home into a "Domestic Church" and pray together as a family. A final realization is to grow as sons and daughters of God, we need to pray more and love more as we honor and obey the two most important commandments; to love God and love our neighbor.
As we celebrate this great Solemnity, our Blessed Mother teaches us that being a disciple of Jesus is a matter of the heart. She teaches us to contemplate Jesus and to transform our lives with our words and our actions. A beautiful reminder is to visualize the baby Jesus in the manger reaching out to us with open arms that should leave a lump in our throats. When we see the crucified Jesus on the cross with his arms outstretched, we should feel a lump in our hearts.
I wish a Happy New Year to you and your family. May God bless you and keep you safe as you continue to proclaim and live the Good News of our Lord Jesus.
Question of the Day: How will you follow the discipleship of Mary in the New Year?
Prayer: Father, help us in this New Year to keep our gaze constantly upon Your Son, who continues to call us into a life of service to others.