January 1, 2017

A HOMILY FOR THE FEAST OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD –  CYCLE “A” –  1/1/17  –  SMG

+  Pax et Bonum!    Peace and goodness to you this day!

We were all saddened this week to hear of the deaths of Carrie Fisher, and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, especially since they died just within a day of each of other.  Carrie Fisher the author wrote much about the difficulties of growing up in the shadow of a very famous mother.  We have all been blessed with some really wonderful parents.  Parents who made great sacrifices for us, and were role models, and witnesses to many good values.  And, hopefully, we are grateful for all that our parents have taught us.  But there must be times, when your parents, or even one of your parents, is so outstanding, so extraordinary, so great at something that they do, that it can make it very hard to live in their shadow.  This is not only true in Hollywood, but it is also true in the Bible.  Think of how difficult it must have been for Isaac, to be the son of Abraham, the Father of all Faith!  No pressure there!  Or what about for Gershom or Eliezer, the two sons of Moses?  Did everyone want them to be just like their Father?  Here, part this sea for us!  Or even after Jesus, St. Monica was so much a part of the conversion of her son, St. Augustine, would St. Augustine ever have become “Saint” Augustine, if it were not for his saintly mother?  Clearly, a lot of people live in the shadow of great parents. Hopefully it makes us even better!

We know, and today we celebrate as Church, that Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, also had an extraordinary Mother, in Mary!  Mary had an unconditional trust and love for God.  She had been kept sinless.  She had been given the extreme grace to say “yes” to the Angel and to God, about becoming the Mother of God, when it most needed to be her choice!  It is possible, in the eyes of some, to see Mary as over-shadowing her Son, Jesus.  And we have to be very careful about this today.  Mary, with every ounce of her being, with every breath and moment of her life, pointed to Jesus.  He was everything to her!  Mary would never have wanted to be a distraction to anyone, getting in the way of them finding or falling in love with her Son.  It was everything that she herself was about!

Today, as Catholic Christians, many times we hear charges from our separated brothers and sisters, that this is still a problems today.  Some don’t see the importance of honoring Mary, and so they want to keep her as far away from Jesus as possible.  They want to keep Mary out of Jesus’ shadow and Jesus as far away as possible from Mary’s shadow.  And we as Catholics, know that you can’t do that.  Mary and Jesus were so connected.  You can’t understand Mary at all without Jesus.  And it is also true, that there’s no better way to understand Jesus, than to let Mary help you.  Mother Teresa of Calcutta used to be fond of saying “Let Mary take you by the hand, and personally lead you to Jesus, because nobody knows how to get you closer to Him, than she does.  Mary should never be an obstacle to Jesus, or a divider amongst God’ people, the Church.  For goodness sake, literally, Mary was given to the Church, by her Son, Jesus Christ, Himself, from the Cross.  She was His last gift to His followers while He was still alive!  How can we ever turn down that gift?  How can we fail to see just what this very special woman can do for our Faith?

And yet, sometimes, we as Catholic Christians don’t help the situation out.  When we talk more about Mary than we do about Jesus, when you walk into a Catholic Church and the first thing you see is Mary, and not Jesus, when we spend more time on Marian devotions neglecting our primary relationship with Jesus, Mary’s Son and God’s Son, this is when we are part of the problem.  We need a healthy and committed love and respect for Mary that is balanced and appropriate with our relationship with Jesus Christ!  We can do a lot to help non-Catholics to see what a gift Mary is!  She’s not a stumbling block.  She’s the greatest help that we have!

You know, on this first day of the New Year, we oftentimes review our goals and make resolutions, to improve our lives.  What if this year, we resolve to be more like Mary, to really let her be our example and guide to Jesus?  What if we, like her, would take some quiet time to listen daily to what God’s plan for us might be in the year ahead?  What if we reflected on whatever we hear in the silence?   What might happen if we too chose to say “yes” to God’s will and plan for us in the coming days, weeks, and months of this New Year?  Very simply, our lives will be changed, as Mary’s was, so that more and more, we too will come to share in Christ’s light, love, and peace.  We don’t want to be in Jesus’ shadow.  This year, we want to live, like Mary did, in His Light!

+  May God bless us in this New Year,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                             AMEN !!!

St. Maria Goretti…                   Pray for us !!!