FEAST OF MARY, THE MOTHER OF GOD
Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21
NEW YEAR; NEW THINGS
New Year celebrations are upon us again, coming right on the heels of Christmas, which is the supreme celebration through Jesus Christ. The Christian spirit is that the New Year brings new things and new realities positively. Indeed, that is the way God wills it. He reminds us: “Look, I am doing something new, now it emerges; can you not see it? Yes, I am making a road in the desert and rivers in wastelands” (Isaiah 43:19).
The Old Testament’s solemn formula of blessing in the first reading inaugurates the liturgy of the new civil year. The exact wording of this blessing was prescribed by God to Moses. Twice the blessing asks God to turn his face towards us and let its splendor shone upon us and thereby grant us grace and wholeness. That God looks at us is according to St Paul much more salvific than that we see him (“He who loves God is known by him” [1 Cor 8:3]). According to St. Augustine, “to see the Seeing One” is the ultimate blessing (“Videntem videre”). At the same time, however, with limitless love the Mother of the Lord views us as her children and blesses us. In the New Testament this blessing cannot be separated from her Child’s blessing and from the blessing of the entire triune God, so deeply is her motherhood grounded in and surrounded by divine fruitfulness. She blesses us both as the personal mother of Jesus and as the epitome of the “immaculate” church (Eph 5:27) who is Jesus’ bride.
The simple words of the Gospel about Mary treasuring all these things in her heart and reflecting on them are mentioned twice (Luke 2:19, 2:51). They show that she is the inexhaustible vessel of memory and exposition for the entire Church. She knows most profoundly about all the events and feasts of the Church that we celebrate throughout the year. This is also the significance of praying the Rosary: the mysteries of Christ must be considered and venerated through her eyes and her heart in order to understand them, as far as is possible, in their depths. And the devotion and feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is not something sentimental, rather, it is an entry into this inexhaustible source of understanding for all God’s saving mysteries that affect the entire world and each of us specifically. To place the year under the protection of her motherhood means that we are asking her, as brothers and sisters of Jesus and therefore as Mary’s children, for an enduring understanding of lasting discipleship of Jesus. Like the Church, whose core she is, she blesses us not in her own name but in the name of her Son, who in turn blesses us in the name of the Father and in the Holy Spirit.
The second reading places great emphasis on this Holy Spirit. It speaks of Mary as the woman through whom was born the Son who acquired divine sonship for us by his suffering. But because we are God’s sons, “God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls ‘Abba’ – Father. If we did not have the Spirit and attitude of the Son we would not be children of the Father. It is this Spirit who permits us to shout to the Father gratefully, indeed, enthusiastically: “Yes, you really are our Father.” But let us not forget that this Spirit was first sent to the Mother as the Spirit that brought her the Son, and thus as “Spirit of the Son” he is also the Spirit of the Father. Her rejoicing at this event, a joy that never ceases throughout the history of the Church, rings forth in the Mother’s Magnificat. This is a prayer of praise that resounds to the Father entirely out of the “Spirit of the Son”, a personal and at the same time ecclesial prayer that gathers up all thanksgiving from Abraham to the present. It is thus the best way to launch the New Year.
Please as we take our first steps into 2020, let us be encouraged by the words of the prophet Jeremiah, “I know the thoughts I have towards you, plan of good and not evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). As we hope for this blessing from God, it is my prayer that in 2020 governments of world nations will bring out policies that will give people a human face that will make people happy. People are suffering too much in our world but as Christians we must look beyond what we see around us to the One who has the whole world in his hands. I wish you all my readers and Facebook friends, a HAPPY NEW YEAR. OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HELP, PRAY FOR US.
Fr. Michael's Thoughts on Biblical Imagery: New Year, New Things