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Dear Followers of the Messiah,
Today has many meanings. We celebrate a World Day of Peace. We flip the calendar for a new year, 2017. Today, the Church celebrates a holy day, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God still in the Christmas Season. Today might also be the day in which you make some new resolutions such a losing ten pounds or to clean out the garage. Today might also be a day of hangovers and regrets from New Year’s Eve. Today, no matter how you view the New Year, is an opportunity to also change your life with God.
Today’s gospel (Luke 2:16-21) tells the story of how the shepherds saw Mary and Joseph and the infant lying in a manger. The shepherds then went and told others what they saw. People were amazed. Here is the critical point here: the message of the Messiah’s birth came from poor people, shepherds. People that we would least expect, were telling other people about Jesus. Here are some important questions for you this year: How will you discover and see Jesus? Who will reveal God to you? Will you be open to finding Jesus in unexpected ways? Does your faith matter to you? Will you trust your search for Christ?
I suspect that for most of us, we will find Jesus when we are ready to find him. We usually find Jesus in our vulnerability such as an unexpected illness, a job loss or in an argument with your adult children. Sometimes in such vulnerable moments, we then argue with God because we assume God hates us and condemns us. We blame God for allowing such things to happen. I understand this. However, God does not condemn us in our vulnerable or even our sinful moments. Sometimes God uses our weakness, our humble hearts and even our tragedies to simply get our attention, to open our hearts for authentic trust.
We need God more than ever. Mary models faith with trust and openness. In today’s gospel, Mary carries these events in her heart. We cannot live in God without the ability to carry our daily concerns within our own hearts. This is a first step to profound prayer. We need God to transform our lives when we stumble and finally realize we need something more than ourselves in this life.
Today’s celebration of Mary challenges us to live with hope in our world. On this World Day of Peace, we need more than ever the conviction that God’s presence remains within our vulnerable and fragile lives. We are the containers for peace in our world. We hold within us the ability to work for justice and remedy the world’s ills. We hold all of these things in our hearts and ponder the love God has for the world and us on this New Year’s Day.
Thank you to all for the Christmas wishes and the cakes and candies that you have dropped off for me and the parish staff to enjoy. I am so happy that you all are apart of our Catholic family. Happy New Year.
Blessings to you,