HOMILY FOR SOLEMNITY OF MARY THE MOTHER OF GOD--1/1/10
By Msgr. Eric R. Barr, S.T.L.
READINGS: NM 6:22-27; GAL 4:4-7; LK 2:16-21
I. Now That It’s Here; What Do We Do?
A. You could be watching the ball fall in Times Square, you could be out at a party screaming and shouting, you could be in bed–but you are not. You are here. For some reason, you felt a need to ring in the New Year with a spiritual experience, a recognition that whether people know it or not, the only reason that celebrations are occurring around the world at this moment is because the Christ was born 2000 years ago. Our concept of time is based on Christ; that’s how important he is to everybody. Even in non-Christian countries, time is kept the Christian way.
B. Today is also a good day for thinking about Mary, not just because this is her feast, but because she shows us how to face this New Year. As the New Year begins, Christians do exactly what Mary did when faced with the tremendous events of that first Christmas. In joy, she treasured her Son, but reflected on all these events in her heart. Because this is, as Paul says in the second reading, “the fullness of time”, we rejoice because of the presence of Christ with us. These are the end times, not in the sense of the imminent end of the world, but, instead, in the sense that we are in the final age when Christ is revealed to the world.
C. One thousand years ago, a primitive and backward Europe was waking up. Pagans were converting en masse to Christianity and a renaissance of learning and art was just around the corner. And yet, people were afraid. In the midst of flickers of light there was the darkness of violence and superstition. People living in that time did not really know that they were on the verge of a great spiritual renewal. Not much is different today. We too are afraid–afraid that the economy might fail, of where technology will take us, of the declining moral standards all around us. And most of all, we are afraid of those demons of darkness–the terrorists, who seek to destroy us and our way of life. We see the darkness, but forget the light. God is here. Emmanuel is with us. And that’s worth reflecting about.
D. After all, Mary was asked to believe that she was going to change the world, and there she was, giving birth in a stable, riding on the back of a donkey, destined to live years in Nazareth as a seemingly ordinary wife and mom. But she believed that God told her the truth. She reflected on that. And the more she thought and prayed, the stronger she became. That’s our challenge this evening–to believe in God, to trust that this New Year, people will open wide the doors to Christ so that those lost in darkness will find a place to call home.