From Father Steven - January 1, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This weekend marks the beginning of a new year, 2023. For us Christians it’s a year closer to the second coming of Christ, and a year full of graces. Precisely for this reason the first reading evokes a blessing upon us, “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
Three times the name of the Lord is pronounced. What better way to start the year than this?
Today is also the eighth day of the octave of Christmas. According to the tradition, it is the day, when Joseph and Mary bring Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised. There he received his name, which means God saves. It is important for us to reflect upon the role of the Virgin Mary in God’s plan. The Lord does save us, but through the agency of the Virgin Mary. We hear the words of Saint Paul, who says, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Gal 4:4). Here’s a confirmation, that Jesus is born of the Virgin Mary.
Although we will not be able to give birth to Jesus like Mary, in a spiritual sense we can. Just a few days ago we were exhorted to allow Christ to be born in our hearts, therefore in a way we can also participate in God’s plan of salvation by bringing Christ to other people. Through this mission, we are called to resemble Mary also in our attitudes in three ways. First, she believed with her whole heart, the word of God in this new year that we begin, we are also called to live by faith. Even when we live difficult days in 2023, not being able to understand or acceptance the events of our lives, or moments of sadness, we are called to trust in the Lord as Mary did. Second, we are called to be open to the mission that God calls us. Our lady of God based on her own interests. She made herself available, like a servant/handmaid. Likewise, we are called to discern what God asks of us, and without hesitation to say “Yes”, even when we are asked something difficult, stressful, or inconvenient. Third, all of this would be possible, without a careful and contemplative, listening to the voice of God. Today’s gospel says that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. She contemplated everything that happened to her in light of God’s silence presence and God’s plan of salvation. And therefore, we are also called to see/meditate upon the events of our life in order to understand that God does “great things for [us] and Holy is his name.”
Brothers and sisters, in 2023 we will laugh and cry, we will have moments of sadness and joy. However we are invited today to live all these events in light of the Christ, the light of the world, the light that shines in darkness. Only in him we shall find peace and love, and the certitude that we are not lost. Let’s entrust ourselves to Mary, our Mother and Mother of God!
God bless and Happy New Year!
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Father Steven Clemence