Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians. 4:4-7; Luke 2: 16-21
A boy asked his father, “Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hangs over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?” The dad replied, “Two.” “No,” the son replied. “Here is the question again: There are three frogs and one decided to jump, how many are left?” The dad said, “Oh, I get the point! If one decided to jump, the others would too. So there are none left.” The boy said, “No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump.”
Does that sound like our last year’s resolutions? Great inspiration and great resolutions, but oftentimes we only decide, and months later we are still on the same limb of doing nothing.
Since we celebrate the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, on New Year’s Day, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year. In the first reading, taken from the book of Numbers, God gives Moses and Aaron the formula of Divine blessing they should use while blessing the Israelites. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace.” Perhaps this reading is in the Lectionary for today because the feast coincides with the civil New Year in many countries, and the blessing formula is a nice way to begin a new year.
Today’s Feast of Mary, the Mother of God is a very appropriate way to begin a new year as well. Today’s Gospel tells us that the first people who came to adore the Baby Jesus were the shepherds. They were taking care of their flocks of sheep when an angel appeared to them and communicated to them the Good News concerning the birth of the Son of God. The angel told them that they should not be afraid. And that is precisely the message that this solemnity we celebrate today brings us. The Church tells us that we should not be afraid, that we should prepare ourselves for the beginning of the New Year by asking Our Lord and our Most Beloved Mother, the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, to come to our aid.
Today’s gospel also presents Mary to us as a model of that new life in Christ that all of us wish for ourselves in the New Year. What did she do? We read that the shepherds, when they went to adore the Child Jesus in the manger, told all that the angels had said to them. “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” Luke 2:19). Again after the boy Jesus was found in the Temple, we are told that “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Mary was a woman who valued the word of God, who treasured it and made time to meditate and ponder it. She pondered the word of God in order to discern what God was saying to her at every stage in her life as the handmaid of God.
On many occasions we find ourselves – in a hardship, a disappointment, a decision to make – God has a solution, an answer that is right for us. Prayer is a conversation with God but sometimes all we do is pick up the phone, read out the list of our problems to God and drop the phone without listening to hear what God has to say to us. Let us today resolve to listen more to the voice of God, to treasure God’s word and ponder it in our hearts like Mary our Heavenly Mother did. Then shall we be able to realize our New Year resolution of a new life in union with God.
All mothers want their children to inherit or acquire their good qualities. Our Heavenly Mother is no exception. With Joseph, she succeeded in training the Child Jesus, so that He grew in holiness and in “favor before God and man.” Hence, our best way of celebrating this feast and honoring our heavenly Mother would be to promise her that we will practice her virtues of faith, obedience, purity and humble service.
Have a Blessed New Year…