Happy New Year, and a blessed Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God! What a beautiful feast day this is!
On this first day of the New Year, just eight days after the feast of the birth of Christ, we remember the Blessed Virgin Mary by celebrating her divine motherhood. As the Mother of God, her greatest title, Mary is known as Theotokus, which means the "God-Bearer". It is appropriate to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, following the birth of Christ. When Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God Incarnate, we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God, but we are also honoring Jesus, who is fully God and fully human.
Everything begins with Mary. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta told us, "No Mary, no Jesus." St. Alphonsus Liguori stated: "Such is the will of God that we should have everything through Mary." St. Louis de Montfort revealed: “We never give more honor to Jesus than when we honor his Mother, and we honor her simply and solely to honor him all the more perfectly. We go to her only as a way leading to the goal we seek – Jesus, her Son.” Mary always leads us to the loving and merciful Heart of Jesus.
During this this Jubilee Year of Mercy, as we make plans to set goals to grow spiritually in the upcoming year, let us ask ourselves if we can cooperate with God's will as Mary did. Are we able to hear the voice of God when He asks us to cooperate with and freely submit to His plans? Will we be humbly and obediently say "yes" to God when he wants us to do something for Him? Will we lovingly accept and embrace His plans?
In the upcoming year, let us pray that our hearts will be worthy homes for Jesus. Just as Mary was Jesus’ feet, breath, and shelter during his first nine months, we are invited to give shelter to Jesus by allowing Him into our lives. Just as Mary took Jesus with her everywhere she went during those first nine months, we, too, are invited to take Jesus with us everywhere we go. How can we do this? Are we actually holy enough to carry Jesus within us? What do we need to do in order to be pure vessels for Jesus?
First and foremost, we are called to repent and to accept his Divine Mercy. We obtain this through CPR -- Confession, Penance, and Reconciliation. Whatever you call it, the sacrament has the consequence of pardoning us from our sins and of purifying us interiorly. There is no sin too great for God's mercy.
Second, we are called to frequent reception of Jesus in the Eucharist. Just as the Blessed Virgin Mary experienced Jesus' physical presence in her life, we, too, experience His physical presence in our lives every time we receive Him in Holy Communion. When we receive the Eucharist, we are given an abundance of graces that fortify our faith and other virtues.
Third, we are called to offer the spiritual and corporal works of mercy for others. Just as Mary is the Mother of Mercy, who showers us with many graces and the mercy of her Son, we, too, are called to show God's mercy to others. We are called to forgive others just as Our Father in Heaven forgives us. We are called to reach out to others in need and to care for both their spiritual and bodily needs. We are called to let God's light shine in their darkness and to lift them up in His hope, faith, and love.
What will you do in this year of Mercy to emulate Mary, the Mother of God?
~copyright Jean M. Heimann 2016