A new year and our Mother, MaryBy: Bishop Edward M. Rice
Another year has passed into eternity and another year has begun. The new year becomes a natural opportunity to look to the events of this past year and its take-away lessons that can help us in the year to come. Often, 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, etc.
The Church, in Her wisdom, has us turn to Mary, the Mother of God, on the first day of the new year and the Scriptures give us guidance on how to face the year to come. In the First Reading on Jan. 1, God told Moses to offer a blessing to the people. 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 profane 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, and 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 sign 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,” Mary 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.” Mary is the woman of prayer. And so, as this year unfolds, may we strive to see the hand of God in the events of life. Like Mary, may each of us 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. January 1, 2017, was also the 50th anniversary of the World Day of Prayer begun by Pope Paul VI. In his message for 2017, Pope Francis reminds us that when we “recognize the image and likeness of God in each person … endowed with immense dignity … and make nonviolence our way of life …” then we shall have peace. Violence is not the cure for our broken world. After noting the example of Jesus himself, Pope Francis calls for a “Christian Revolution” for peace, where we “tackle evil with the weapons of love and truth.” Our Holy Father ends his message by calling on Mary, Queen of Peace (see more of this on pp. 6-7 of this issue of The Mirror).
So, in the coming year may peace break out in our hearts, let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me, each of us. Let us be a part of this revolution, armed with love and truth, let us face this new year with prayer, and let us be a blessing to each other.
With Mary, let us strive to do the will of God and I do believe 2017 will be the best year ever. May God bless you. You remain in my prayers, and I ask you that you keep me in your prayers as well. A blessed and happy New Year!