Monday, December 12, 2016

Homily Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Year ABC: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

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

 Mary: Mother of Christ, Source of Peace
On every First January of every 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, just celebrated at Christmas. Of course, Mary is our mother too. She is the mother of the Church,  as truly confirmed  in today’s Second Reading, Paul’s Letter to the Galatians (Gal 4:4-7). Paul 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).”  Of course, Paul’s message was long foretold by many Israel’s prophets- Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zephaniah, which we all read during Advents- with theological and spiritual implications.

 By implication, we are all brothers and sisters of Christ, and children of God, in baptism. At the Morning Mass, yesterday, you will recall, we were all being addressed as children of God in 1 John 2:12-17. And as adopted children we are part and parcel of the Holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph which we also celebrated few days ago.
Days and weeks from now we will begin to bring down the Christmas trees, and undo those decorations in our home. One thing we do not want to forget is that the Birth of Christ brought peace and redemption to our homes, and into the world. Everyone acknowledges this, including the Angels who sang that song with which we began this worship with: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to people of goodwill.” the shepherds of Israel (Luke 2:16-21), the prophet Simeon and the prophetess Anna in the Gospel reading of yesterday (Luke 2:36-40) also spoke about this Prince of Peace to everyone, to those who were awaiting and hoping for the redemption of Israel.

On this day of the World Day of Peace, Mary is extolled as the mother of Christ the Redeemer, the Prince and source of Peace, for several reasons. Let me mention a few. 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) and for the rich and educated foreign scientists-Magi (Matt 2: 13-23), who visited with them in a manger in Bethlehem. With this, Mary and Joseph prepared Jesus for the ministry of peace, universalism and inclusiveness of the poor, that seems to be elusive in our society today. Jesus of course would grow up to become the champion of peace- that we need today.

When Jesus stayed back in the temple Mary and Joseph, his parents did not freak-out. They anxiously but peacefully searched for Jesus. It is true that we don’t hear much of what went on in the family of Jesus and Mary and Joseph after the Birth narrative and Christmas celebrations. I am sure the shepherd went back to their sheep.  Joseph must have quietly and peacefully retired to his carpentry worship while Mary was busy changing the diapers and raising Jesus peacefully, lovingly and virtuously in their poor, but peaceful home.
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 tragedies, the hurricane sandy, the typhoons in the Philippines, the shootings and terrorist acts in our nations’ schools, movie theaters and religious centers, and other part of the world, Nigeria, Nigeria- the rough politics, health-care debate, government shut down, social and economic difficulties, the bokoharam, -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!”
[I have received so many cards and greetings from you! One of my cards reads,

“Fr. Michael I can’t believe today is the last Sunday of the Year. I am very grateful to God for all his blessings and graciousness upon me, my family, especially my grandchildren this past Year 2013.  Thank you for leading us to such a spiritual pilgrimage to Fatima, Lourdes and Rome. It was a pilgrimage of my life time. May Christmas be Merry to You and New Year a fruitful one.”]
Today is also the day we say to ourselves “Happy New Year!” in various languages. With this we are indirectly making New Year resolutions- wishing and promising ourselves every good thing in the New Year, including Happiness of which Christ, the Son of Mary is the ultimate source.

 We wish ourselves peace (shalom), trust, hope and faith in God. 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; 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 so that we may be blessed with lasting peace, and joy in the Lord. 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)!

Reflection Questions:

1.     What are your New Year Resolutions- peace, forgiveness, oneness..?

2.     What can you do to help bring peace to the world, family, church, neighborhood, and community of nations?

3.     Am I always opened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit or trusting in the prayerful intercession of our Mother Mary?