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Homily for New Year’s 2017

2016-09-22-15-05-47

Church in Shepherd’s Field near Bethlehem

After my New years Eve Mass and dinner with Filipinos in one of my parishes, I went home at around 11 pm. Upon arriving home I decided I would just wait for the fireworks display to be broadcast live on TV. While waiting I turned on the TV, and of course, one of the things people were talking about while waiting for the countdown is about New Year’s resolutions.

To join in the trend, I tried to re-visit my new year’s resolution I made in January this year. I made a resolve to lose weight. And as you could see: ‘I lost 12 months’. I made a resolve to lose my belly fat. ‘I lost my belly button.’ (pun intended).

So this new year I made another resolution, something more realistic and doable. Today the 31st of December I have decided, is going to be my last day on Facebook (for the year 2016). I will come back sometimes on the 1st of January 2017. Again pun intended. It’s good to start the New Year with humour.

New Year’s resolution is pretty commonplace this time, but more often, it just remains a thought, not an action, it just remains a plan not implementation. In short, it doesn’t happen. We can only laugh at it at the end of each year.

Perhaps we need to go deeper in our new year’s resolution though. We need to go further than just looking physically well and healthy. We need to go  deeper than how we live this new year. We need to go deeper into how we can live for eternity. We need to have a spiritual resolution that would benefit us not just in this life, but forever.

To realize this, we need to know Jesus more personally and we need to follow him more closely.  Because only Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. The bible also reminds us this: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved,” but Jesus. Acts 4:12.

Each New year’s day, the Church celebrates the Feast of Mary as the Mother of God. Through our reflection on this feast, we can get to know Jesus more personally and follow him more intimately.

But first let us try to understand how can Mary be the Mother of God, when she is just one of God’s creatures.

There is a logic about this that goes: ‘Mary is the mother of Jesus. Jesus is God. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.‘ This has always been a belief in the Church even from the earliest centuries. One  of the Fathers of the Church for example, Irenaeus, said: “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]). Also Hippolytus, Gregory the Wonderworker, Peter of Alexandria, Methodius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Ephraim the Syrian, Athanasius, Epiphanius of Salamis, Ambrose of Milan, Gregory of Nazianzus (“If anyone does not agree that holy Mary is Mother of God, he is at odds with the Godhead” (Letter to Cledonius the Priest 101 [A.D. 382]). Jerome, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Cyril of Alexandria, John Cassian, Council of Ephesus [A.D. 431]), Vincent of Lerins, these Fathers of the Church all taught that Mary is the Mother of God. (source: Catholic Answers)

Mary as the Mother of God though doesn’t mean that Mary is older than God or that she is the source of Jesus’ divinity. No. “She is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God “in the flesh” (2 John 7, cf. John 1:14)—and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.” (Source: http://www.catholic.com/tracts/mary-mother-of-god). There is no denying Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ.

For us followers and believers of Christ, we can then go to Christ through Mary’s help. Mary is the help of Christians.  

As the mother of Jesus, Mary brings Jesus to us. As our mother too, she brings us to Jesus.
Through Mary we can know Jesus more personally and follow him more closely. 

Three things we can learn from Mary as the Mother of Jesus/Mother of God.

First, her faithfulness to God and to her specific mission in life is worth imitating. Even if at times things are hard to understand for her, or don’t make any sense, she nevertheless, remained faithful and obedient to God’s will.

Second, her availability to God and to others is selfless. What Mary showed us in terms of our relationship with God is that devoting most if not all of our time to God and to others, are not lost times for us, they are not times gone to waste, they are times of grace and blessings for us. And because her of her amazing availability to God,  we have encountered our Lord Jesus who let his face shine on us and who is  gracious to us. And it is through Mary, that God has sent his Son, to be born a subject of the law according to St Paul, to redeem us as the subjects of the law and to enable us adopted sons of and daughters of God.

Third, her humility, prayerfulness and openness to life and all that it brings is worth reflecting and worth learning. In humility she accepted who she is before God, no pretence. In her constant prayers she is sustained in her faith. In her openness to life she is an ideal mother, who would do everything, take all the risks just for her son to live.

As our spiritual resolution therefore for the new year, let us ask Mary to pray for us that like her we may be faithful to what God is calling us especially in life, to make ourselves available for God and for others, and to grow in humility, prayerfulness and openness to life.

So I pray: May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.

May the Lord uncover his face and bring you peace. Amen.

Hail Mary…

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