Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Homily (3) Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God: Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo:

Homily (3) Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God: Year ABC: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo: Readings: Num 6: 22-27; Ps 67:2-3, 5-8; Gal 4:4-7 and Luke 2:16-21

 Mary: Mother of Christ: Source of Peace

On every First January of each year the Church prays for peace, and celebrates the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and mother of Christ, the Prince of Peace.  Of course, she is also our mother, as confirmed her son, Christ on the cross, “mother behold your son, and son behold your mother”(John 19:25-26). She is the mother of the Church. Mary's motherhood is one of those special privileges given to her by God. Though human, Mary, full of grace conceived and gave birth to Christ, the source of peace and freedom. 

 Saint Paul in the 2nd reading of today, Galatian 4:4-7, acknowledges this special privilege given to Mary, and the human dimension of Jesus. Paul’s says, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons" (and daughters). In Christ, we are  brothers and sisters; and " no longer slaves" as equally stressed by Pope Francis in his Jan 1st, 2015 New Year Message for Peace.

 This is an important dimension of our faith, acknowledging the human dimension of Jesus, why and how God came down in the person of his Son, Jesus, through a young Jewish woman, Mary. Through her, God enters into human history, and from the heart of history Christ proclaims the love of God and neighbors to us. He walks the street of Palestine. He reaches out to the poor, those in prison and slavery, the sick, the needy, raises the dead, cares for the orphan and the rejected, interacts with men, and children alike, without harming them, but brings them compassion and sincere healing love. Through Mary, Christ brought us peace and blessings!

 Today is also usually marked as the world day of prayer for peace.  Mary was peaceful all her life. And passed this on to her Son Christ. At the annunciation, Mary peacefully said to Angel Gabriel, “I am the Handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Word” (Luke 1:38). She was not afraid to say yes, and to be opened to the will of God.  Never for once was Mary violent and abusive to those who disbelieved her or suspected her pregnancy. She dialogued with the family of Joseph and her family over the divine situation.

 In the Gospel reading of today, Mary and Joseph opened their doors and their hearts for the humble poor shepherd (Luke 2:16-21) who came to see them in the manger in Bethlehem, with the news of what had been told them about the Child Jesus. Mary, we are told, kept all these things in her heart.  What were all these things? All the reactions, including several prophecies of Simeon and Ann meant a lot for Mary. But she kept reflecting on them, peacefully. She trusted in Gods’ word, and handled all these events with serenity and gentleness. With this, Mary and Joseph, often known as a quiet and righteous, must have prepared Jesus for the ministry of peace, universalism and inclusiveness of the poor. Jesus of course would grow up to become the champion of peace.

 When we look back on the events of the last year be it  in our families, homes, Church,  the United Nations, in the Middle East, Africa or in Asia, Europe, North Korea including all the wars, trains derailing here and there, the natural and airlines' tragedies, the shootings and terrorist acts in our nations’ schools, movie theaters and religious centers, and other part of the world- recently in Russia- Ukraine, lSIS, Boko Haram, kidnappings of children in northern Nigeria, and human trafficking, threats of Ebola,  turbulent politics, health-care debate, government shut down, social and economic difficulties, or what Pope Francis would called in his new year message "globalization of indifference." Think of those who found themselves directly in these situations. Any of us could have been in such situation. We need to be grateful to God for this near year, and pray for one another. We need peace more than ever, in the world today.

Jesus, the Son of Mary is the source of this Peace (Shalom). He alone can heal us. He alone can heal our nations of our weaknesses, selfishness, our divisiveness, our doubts and skepticisms. He alone can give us that wholeness, that friendship, that sense of justice, that sense of oneness, that community spirit, that forgiving spirit, that Christian love and charity that we all need.

The priceless Peace, which Jesus the Son of Mary brings is a grace and blessing! This peace was among the blessings that God gave to Israel, through Aaron in the first reading (Num 6:22-27). Blessing Israel, Aaron said:  May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”

  Today is also the day we say to ourselves “Happy New Year!” in various languages. We count our blessings and gifts of the past new year today. We make new year resolutions.  Think of the  blessings of life, our families, jobs, clothing over our nakedness,  roof over our head, food, soda, candies, cookies, ice cream, transportation, the security in our nations, the gifts of faith, the gift of the Catholic Church, the gift of our New Pope, the gift of our bishops, pastors, priests and deacons, our parents, teachers, our youths,  the gifts of our volunteers and parish staff, the gifts of the Knights of the Church, the Columbiates, the choir, our trustees, and various pious groups here in our Parish; the gifts of our jobs.

 As we begin a new year, we wish ourselves peace, trust, hope and faith in God. We wish ourselves a non-violent year, a year of the family. We wish ourselves good health. We wish ourselves the grace to forego bad habits. We wish ourselves greater respect for the dignity of the human person, greater sense of social justice and respect to the fundamental human rights of every person, men, women and children including the poor, the seniors and those at the margin of the society in our nations, the right to practice and treasure the Catholic faith, the right to wear cross, and crucifixes, the right to pray publicly without being ashamed of your faith and religion.  It is a year we want to continue to pray for the souls of our loved ones gone before us marked with the sign faith.

 As we begin a New Year, may Mary the Mother of God, Mother of the Church, intercede for us and our families, so that we may be blessed with lasting peace, and joyful New Year! And May “The Lord bless you and Keep you! May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you.  May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace” in this New Year (Num 6:22-27)!

Happy New Year!