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.
II. Open Wide The Doors To Christ
A. In the past two thousand years, Mary’s task has been to bring Christ to people. Today, we are asked to do the same. When Pope John Paul II was consecrated Pope, his most famous words in his homily were these, “Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!” Mary is the God-bearer, and yet, she is also spiritually a mother to all whom Jesus came to save. In other words, as she brought forth Christ and watched over him so she watches over all those who spiritually are born children of God in Baptism–that’s us. She asks that we follow her example in bringing Christ to those who have not heard his voice.
B. If we can face the challenges ahead of us this New Year with hope, then we can really change the lives of our families, friends, fellow-workers–even the entire world. Here’s what each of us has to do:
1. Be confident in your faith–it is true; Christ has truly come and is still with us and will come again.
2. Recognize your obligation to spread the Good News. “Open wide the doors to Christ” means not only opening your own heart to be touched by God, but also, letting people know your personal experience of Jesus and Church.
3. Fight evil. We are not perfect. We sin. But we are still called to fight evil in all its forms. In whatever way we can, we hold up the light of Christ in order to banish the darkness.
4. Reflect on what God has done for you. Never forget what Mary did–she gained strength from prayer and reflection. Changing the world takes a lot of energy. Prayer and frequent Communion is the way we get strength.
C. Decide what you are going to do this New Year to open wide the doors to Christ. Don’t squander this chance. They will be writing about us a thousand years from now if Christ delays his coming. What will they say about you? Will they even know you existed? Will Christ be able to stand up and say, “This person made a difference. He/she may not have been famous in the world’s eyes but I know what he/she did and it mattered to me. It made the world a better place, and helped spread my Gospel to the nations.” Face the New Year with joy, for God is with us, Christ is leading us, the Holy Spirit is guiding us. Open wide the doors to Christ; let his healing love set you free, today, tonight, tomorrow and throughout the Year of our Lord 2010.