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Bp. Rice: Mary, Mother of God

12daysofChristmasblogThe following is the prepared text of the homily delivered by Bishop Edward Rice at a Midnight Mass for the feast of Mary, Mother of God, January 1, 2016 at Holy Redeemer in Webster Groves.

Another year has passed into eternity and another year is about to unfold.  This becomes a natural opportunity to look to the events of this past year and take away some lessons that can help us in the year to come.  It is often the case that people use this moment, the transition from one year to the next to make a resolution, symbolic of a fresh start or a new beginning regarding some issue of health or the better use of time.

The Church, in Her wisdom, has us turn to Mary, the Mother of God, on this first day of the New Year and the Scriptures give us guidance on how to face this year to come.  In the 1st Reading, God told Moses to offer a blessing to the people.  And there is our first challenge to take into this New Year.  May we be a blessing to each other.  So often it is the case that we use the name of God or His Son as a curse to another.   Moses was told to offer a blessing:  May the Lord bless you…May the Lord let His face shine upon you…May the Lord give you peace.  And so for this coming year may we be a blessing to each other, may we be gracious to one another, may we be instruments of peace for one another.

The reading from Galatians states that “in the fullness of time God sent His Son,” giving us the privilege of calling God, “Abba, Father.”We have been given a new dignity as children of God.  In Christ, we have been claimed for God by the sign of the Cross.  At our baptism, each of us was marked with the sign of the Cross along with the bold proclamation, “I claim you for Christ by the sing of His Cross.”  And so, this coming year, may we call upon God as Father, and see in the joys and sorrows of life an expression of His Cross.

The Gospel offers us the image of Mary at prayer.  Having given Her consent, her “fiat”, she became a temple of the Holy Spirit and she bore the Son of God.  And in the silence of that holy night we are told “Mary reflected on all these things in her heart.”  She is the woman of prayer.  And so, as this year unfolds, may we strive to see the hand of God in the event of life.  Like Mary, may we offer our own “fiat” and say “let it be done” in the midst of joy or sorrow.  And, like Mary, may we be more prayerful as we too reflect upon the events of life in our hearts.

To be a blessing for others, to call upon God as Father, Abba and to be more prayerful like Mary – that would be enough for the year to come, but there is more.  Pope Francis, in calling for this Year of Mercy, has asked for a renewal of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.  Without mercy, he states, the world is “cold and sterile.”  With mercy, we reveal the face of Christ.  In his recent visit to Cuba he called for a Revolution of Tenderness. Let us be a part of this revolution, armed with works of mercy, and 2016 will be the best year ever.

This is the seventh in a 12-day series of posts with the purpose of helping readers deepen their appreciation for, and celebration of, the 12 Days of Christmas, a season which traditionally concludes with the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6th.