Feast of Mary the Mother of God
All Hallows – 2019/2020
Happy New Year, everyone. — However, many different cultures celebrate the beginning of the New Year on other dates during the year! For example the Jewish new year (Rosh Hashanah) is celebrated at the beginning of October. The Chinese will celebrate the beginning of the new year on January 23rd. In fact, we as a church celebrated the beginning of the new Liturgical Year with the first Sunday of Advent.
The custom of celebrating New Year in the western world on January 1st goes back to second century Rome. January 1st was chosen because this was the date when Roman councils took office. It was a day celebrated with wild parties and other excesses – (so not too much has changed in the past 2,000 plus years!)
Liturgically, we as a church celebrate January 1st as a Holy Day, not because it is New Year’s; but because it is the octave of Christmas and is a solemn Feast honoring Mary as the Mother of God!
The last line of this morning’s Gospel says: “When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.”
In Hebrew, the name “JESUS” means: “God saves.”
In 2020, you and I have to decide exactly what THAT means.
What GOD “INTENDS” is very clear: “This is my beloved Son, my Word made flesh, given to you and for you. LISTEN to him.”
So we must ask ourselves: Is JESUS (God in human flesh – God’s only begotten Son) the “WORD” that we FOLLOW, whose Gospel of justice and mercy and forgiveness is the STANDARD for how we live our lives?
Is JESUS (God in human flesh – God’s only begotten son) the path to finding GOD in out lives? —- Is JESUS my own “personal” JESUS? OR is he my connection to a community of FAITH and a FAMILY of God’s sons and daughters?
The EXTENT of our compassion, our commitment to what is right and just, our readiness to forgive and heal and restore the lost and broken-hearted REVEAL exactly WHAT JESUS (God in human flesh – God’s only begotten Son) MEANS TO US AND OUR WORLD!
So, in our annual NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS, perhaps the FIRST RESOLUTION should be to DETERMINE what JESUS (God in human flesh – God’s only begotten Son) means – and how our lives will reflect that meaning during the course of this next year!
On a lighter note – because this past year was saturated with politics, I’d like to end this homily with a bit of political humor:
Will Rogers once said, “If we got one-tenth of what was promised to us in political speeches, there wouldn’t be any inducement to go to heaven.”
In 1952, Adlai Stevenson said, “I offer my opponents a bargain: if they stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them.”
Two other comments from unknown authors:
“Why pay money to have your family tree traced; go into politics and your opponents will do it for free.” —– And finally:
“Instead of giving a politician the keys to the city; it might be better to change the locks.”
While politics greatly affect our nation and our lives; I would like to end with a word about the MOST IMPORTANT THING any of us can do this coming year. KEEP GOD/ KEEP JESUS – FIRST IN YOUR LIFE. If you keep God/ if you keep Jesus FIRST, everything in you life will fit together better.
KEEPING GOD/ KEEPING JESUS FIRST means keeping the commandments, going to Mass, and taking some time to PRAY. (A sign outside of a church asked: “Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?”)
KEEP GOD – KEEP JESUS, FIRST and it will be a better year for you! That is not to say that if you follow God (if you follow Jesus) more faithfully, it will a PROBLEM FREE year; but, it WILL BE BETTER THAN if you try to pass the next 365 days without seeking Divine help!