Homily 01 01 2017
New Year's Day
Since we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, on New Year’s Day, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year? I pray that the Lord Jesus and His Mother Mary may enrich your lives during the New Year with an abundance of God’s blessings.
Today’s Feast of Mary, the Mother of God is a very appropriate way to begin a new year. This celebration reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is also our Heavenly Mother. Hence, our ideal motto for the New Year 2017 should be “Through Mary to Jesus!"
This is an occasion to renew our devotion to Mary, who is also Mother of the Church because she is our spiritual mother — and we are the Church.
In 1970, Pope Paul VI instituted the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. In his encyclical on devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Marialis Cultus, he wrote,
"This celebration, assigned to Jan. 1 in conformity with the ancient liturgy of the city of Rome, is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the holy Mother … through whom we were found worthy … to receive the Author of life.”
The solemnity shows the relationship of Jesus to Mary. It’s a perfect example of how we should venerate Mary under all of her titles and is a good foundation for our understanding of Mary’s place in Christology. The Church puts the feast of this solemnity on the first day of the New Year to emphasize the importance of Mary’s role in the life of Christ and of the Church.
The Advent season drew our
attention to the reality of Christ’s Second Coming as we prepared to
remember his coming at Bethlehem. The Christmas season extends that
Celebration through the feast of the Epiphany and the Baptism of Jesus.
This year we will continue to read Matthew’s Gospel and come again in
the Jesus that Matthew portrays for us.
As we celebrate the liturgy today, the Gospel is from Luke, since Matthew’s Gospel begins with a genealogy rather than centering on the Incarnation and the Motherhood of Mary. We celebrate the feast of Mary the Mother of God today. In the past the Church celebrated the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus and the Circumcision of Jesus.
We have rich material to
reflect upon as we begin the New Year. We are invited to consider the
grandeur of the Christian reality being worked out in history as God has
revealed himself in the plan of salvation.
invites us to have peace and joy as we take a broader view of what our
life is and where God is helping us to take it.
This day rejoices in new beginnings. Today our readings suggest a mission towards evangelization but also calls us to be quiet and just ponder the mystery of God’s work among us.
This feast recalls that God’s Word came to earth in the mystery of the Incarnation to the human family. We also turn to Mary, the bearer of the Word, called the Theotokos in Greek. We are reminded that God’s Word was born in silence and mystery and richness.
The verse from Numbers read: “So shall they invoke my name and I will bless them. We are invited to evoke God’s Name and proclaim the Word in the world, Now, where people work and live.
Luke tells us that the shepherds who beheld the Christ event became the first proclaimers of the Word. The experience of God’s story becomes human history, retold again, and again. So this is a season not only of recounting the story of Jesus, but also of God’s ever-present Spirit, sewing flesh on bare-boned humanity. The invitation to make God present among us is the invitation of the story.
We are therefore called to silence today in order to ponder this mystery. Mary the Mother of God becomes the icon of the one who holds the Word before the outbreak of speech and proclamation. We recall Mary the contemplative in Luke’s Gospel who “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
St. Benedict mandated that monks keep strict silence during the night, while even observing it carefully during the day. Silence is the language of the incarnation, not only for monks, but also for all who hear the word of God. By practicing silence, we allow ourselves to be taught be God’s presence. Listening, we are opened to the gifts God may be offering us. We expand our capacity to receive what is beyond us.
Our Tradition of Western painting has usually represented Mary as a contemplative, pondering God’s mysteries in her heart. Before you throw away 2016’s Christmas Cards, perhaps you might take another look at the Christmas event, asking: What is the artist trying to say? Why are Mary’s motherhood and her contemplation so closely linked?
The power of God’s Word will make a new journey this year, fresh and alive it will come to us.
God’s radical gift in Christ, communicated in the fullness of time and living and active among us, breaks in on us no less than it did 20 Centuries ago. WE celebrate this New Year’s Feast.
My prayer is that the Lord look upon each of you with favor and give you peace. New Year’s resolutions are nice, but often not effective. Self-improving and even self-serving, they do not last long. Instead, try something new. Don’t worry about year-long diets or monthly closet-cleaning programs.Go for a “New Day’s Resolution.” Make your resolve each new day this year to live the consecration you began today. Make holiness in your life your first goal each morning.
So wish each other a happy new year. But make this new year happy by living in the holiness of God as Mary did.
And for more than a single year or so, our joy will be a bit longer-lasting. As we look to the New Year, we pray that the Lord will bless us and through our efforts grant us peace.
Gracious God of Time and Eternity, we meet you here at the end of 2016 We your people pray for blessing. We pray for blessing on this New Year and on our clocks, our watches, and these calendars which are a reminder for us of this New Year. May these calendars and time pieces which we own, and the clocks where we live and work be instruments which announce the gift of time to us.
Grant all the world and to us a year of peace. Bless the seconds, the minutes, the hours, the days and the months of the Year, 2017. Bless this New Year O God and form us into a community of hope, faith and love.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen