Jan. 1, 2014
Homily at St. Mary’s Cathedral for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Jan. 1, 2014
As we begin this New Year by honoring Mary, the Mother of God, it is informative to take a quick inventory of other days on our new 2014 calendar set aside by the Church to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
First of all, our list recalls and renews the major events of Mary’s life such as her Immaculate Conception, Dec. 8; her birthday nine months later, Sept. 8; her Presentation in the Temple in Jerusalem, Nov. 21; the Annunciation marks Mary’s conception of Jesus, Mar. 25; the Visitation of the Virgin Mary to Elizabeth, May 31; Our Lady of Sorrows commemorating Mary’s presence at the crucifixion of her Son, Sept. 15; and Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, Aug. 15.
In addition to these, there is a whole host of other days marked off for the special honoring of Mary throughout the year.
There is something special, however, about today’s Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Today has the liturgical rank of a Solemnity. Today, therefore, is not a regular “run of the rosary” celebration but a major remembrance of Mary as the Mother of God.
What do we mean when we call Mary, the Mother of God?
First of all, we are saying the mind-boggling truth that God has a mother. We are saying that the totally unbegotten, unborn, supreme and eternal God, who has no beginning and no end, who always was and always will be, has a mother.
This is the mystery expressed by Mary’s title, “Mother of God.” For we do believe that this infant lying in a manger in the little town of Bethlehem, this newborn child of Mary whom the shepherds had just found, this Jewish baby boy who was named Jesus, IS GOD! And Mary is His mother.
Arriving at the beginning of this New Year, we cannot foresee what these next twelve months will bring. But we do know this: as each month unfolds, Mary, the Mother of God, will be with us as we celebrate her various feast days. Today’s Gospel, the first Good News of 2014, tells us that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
Slowly, but surely, Mary came to know and understand this Son of hers, and ultimately came to follow Him. Surely it was Mary who trained Jesus to go aside from time to time to pray, to think, to rest, to refresh Himself with the Scriptures.
As we move into this New Year, may every feast day of Mary give us the opportunity and the inspiration to let the love and mercy, the peace and joy of Jesus sink more deeply into our heads and our hearts. Mary is indeed the Mother of God, but she is also our mother. She wants each and one of us to become more and more like her son Jesus.
Today is also the World Day of Prayer for Peace. Let us, in a special way, ask our Mother, the Queen of Peace to intercede on our behalf to her Son, the Prince of Peace, as we seek renewed energy to bring peace and hope to a fractured world.
In his World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis noted that our world is “marked by a globalization of indifference which makes us slowly inured to the suffering of others and closed in on ourselves.” Globalization, he says, perhaps “makes us neighbors, but does not make us brothers [or sisters].”
With God and religion relegated more and more to the backstreets of life, we forget that we are all sons and daughters of the same Father. Therefore, no one, inside or outside the womb, is to be treated as a means to someone else’s ends. All enjoy equal dignity.
Let each of us, this brand new year, resolve to be an instrument of peace by building up relationships, not remaining indifferent or unconcerned about the welfare of our sisters and brothers, no matter how near or far they may be.
May your New Year be blessed with true peace and much joy!