05 Jan Mary, Mother of God
January 1st, 2017
Father Shawn Hughes
Disclaimer: Homilies are never the creative act of one person. So as we begin to post these homilies on our website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be nothing original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time. If there is something that you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures.
God bless you.
Lots to celebrate today.
January 1 is the Octave Day of Christmas, the eighth day. The celebration of Christ’s birth is so big and so wonderful that we celebrate it for a full 8 days…each of the 8 days are a savouring of the meaning of God’s becoming man in Jesus…then we complete the 12 days of Christmas with the coming of the Magi on Jan. 6th which happens to be moved to next Sunday, Jan 8th this year…and then the following day, Jan 10th, we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Baptism of the Lord…which is the final celebration of the Christmas season.
Today we also celebrate Jesus’ Name day. On the eighth day after a Jewish male child was born He would be circumcised and receive His name. Jan 1 we celebrate Jesus’ name day as well. The name “Jesus” means he who saves…So another important aspect of our celebration today. He who saves, Our Saviour, has come in to the world.
January 1 is also for Catholics the World Day of Prayer for Peace and the Holy Father always issues a special message of Peace
And of course it is New Year`s Eve.
Most importantly today is the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary…under the title Mother of God…the most ancient and most exalted title we can address her as. God the Son, who has existed even before time, was sent by God the Father, taking his human nature from Mary. Thus, Jesus, is God in human flesh…fully human and fully God…so today and always we honour Our Lady as the Mother of God. She who is full of grace and virtue, conceived without sin. She is the Mother of God and our Mother, who now dwells both body and soul in heaven. Sacred Scripture refers to her as the most exalted of all creatures…as her cousin Elisabeth says …blessed are you among women,…The angel Gabriel says she is full of grace, most highly favoured (Luke 1:28) she whom all generations shall call blessed. (Luke 1:48) The Church teaches us that, after The Blessed Trinity, God Himself, Mary occupies the most honoured place in heaven because of her being the Mother of God.
The greatest praise we can give to the Blessed Virgin is to address her loud and clear by the name that expresses her highest dignity: Mother of God. Thus, we pray in the second part of the Hail Mary: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
As I mentioned this is also the World Day of Prayer for Peace. In His Message, the Holy Father, Pope Francis, has reflected on nonviolence as a style of politics for peace and prayed that God help all of us to cultivate nonviolence in our most personal thoughts and values.
I’d like to quote a paragraph here from his Message: The Holy Father observes that ‘Jesus himself lived in violent times. Yet Jesus taught that the true battlefield, where violence and peace meet, is the human heart: for “it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come” (Mk 7:21). But Christ’s message in this regard offers a radically positive approach. He unfailingly preached God’s unconditional love, which welcomes and forgives. He taught his disciples to love their enemies (cf. Mt 5:44) and to turn the other cheek (cf. Mt 5:39). When he stopped her accusers from stoning the woman caught in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), and when, on the night before he died, he told Peter to put away his sword (cf. Mt 26:52), Jesus marked out the path of nonviolence. He walked that path to the very end, to the cross, whereby he became our peace and put an end to hostility (cf. Eph 2:14-16). Whoever accepts the Good News of Jesus is able to acknowledge the violence within and be healed by God’s mercy, becoming in turn an instrument of reconciliation. In the words of Saint Francis of Assisi: “As you announce peace with your mouth, make sure that you have greater peace in your hearts” (The Legend of the Three Companions”, Fonti Francescane, No. 1469)
To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence. Pope Francis quotes Pope Benedict XVI, he says that his predecessor observed, that to be a true follower of Jesus one must embrace his teaching about nonviolence. Pope Benedict says this teaching “is realistic because it takes into account that in the world there is too much violence, too much injustice, and therefore that this situation cannot be overcome except by countering it with more love, with more goodness. This ‘more’ comes from God”. (Benedict XVI, Angelus, February 18, 2007.) He went on to stress that: “For Christians, nonviolence is not merely tactical behaviour but a person’s way of being, the attitude of one who is so convinced of God’s love and power that he or she is not afraid to tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth alone. Love of one’s enemy constitutes the nucleus of the ‘Christian revolution’. (ibid.) The Gospel command to love your enemies (cf. Lk 6:27) “is rightly considered the magna carta of Christian nonviolence. It does not consist in succumbing to evil…, but in responding to evil with good (cf. Rom 12:17-21), and thereby breaking the chain of injustice”. (ibid.)’ (Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the Fiftieth World Day of Peace, Jan. 1, 2017 # 3)
Pope Francis Concludes:
“All of us want peace. Many people build it day by day through small gestures and acts; many of them are suffering, yet patiently persevere in their efforts to be peacemakers”. In 2017, may we dedicate ourselves prayerfully and actively to banishing violence from our hearts, words and deeds, and to becoming nonviolent people and to building nonviolent communities that care for our common home. “Nothing is impossible if we turn to God in prayer. Everyone can be an artisan of peace”. (Message of His Holiness Pope Francis for the Celebration of the Fiftieth World Day of Peace, Jan. 1, 2017 # 7)
He cites Mother Teresa, St. Teresa of Calcutta, as one of the great artisans of peace in our time.
You have heard me quote over and over again her program for peace:
She would say over and over:
The fruit of silence is prayer.
The fruit of prayer is Faith.
The fruit of Faith is Love.
The fruit of love is Service.
The Fruit of Service is Peace.
To achieve peace it begins in silence, just us and God, which produces prayer, which produces faith, which produces Love, which produces service, Which produces peace.
We experience service of others as peace because that who God has created us to be. We are living up to summit of who we are called to be.
Thus, a good New Year’s Resolution, that will have the Fruit of Peace is to add more silence and prayer to our daily lives.
Happy New Year everyone!!!!!