“Holy Mother, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life.”
-Paul VI, Marialis Cultus
By Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S.
New Year’s Day. A day that we kick off striving for new goals, getting over the previous evening, spending time with family and friends and watching college football bowl games. Most importantly, New Year’s Day is the Solemnity of Mary, a day when we celebrate Mary as the mother of Jesus, and in turn the mother of God. The readings reflect this truth.
We are made children of God through God’s grace. All this is accomplished through Jesus. In Galatians, Paul points out that Jesus was “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Paul is pointing out that Jesus came under the law so as to free us from it. In doing this, we are worthy of God’s love not by anything we do (our attempts to adhere to the law), but by who we are. Mary started this off by saying “yes” to Gabriel. It is that simple. This simple but profound gift is one that none of us have earned. What do we do with it?
Consider the first reading. It is the priestly benediction that we hear at the end of the liturgy. It was used as a blessing for Israel’s departure from Sinai to the Promised Land. As the Israelites faced hardship and danger in the wilderness, this blessing was a source of strength and hope for them. Focus on this benediction’s verbs: bless, shine, be gracious, look upon kindly, give peace. God has given all of this and more to us through Jesus. In setting goals and resolutions in this coming year of 2021, can we take these verbs of bless, shine upon, be gracious, look upon kindly, give peace and live these actions in the world? Why not take these verbs in the benediction and use that as a goal? Our Church, country, world and more intimately, our various communities, families and ourselves went through a lot in 2020. If you are reading this and you have felt unhinged from this past year, and you don’t feel quite at home, pray this benediction for yourself. But also, live the words of the benediction and share that with others.
If God has given us Jesus, the source of salvation, then we can take the meaning from this priestly benediction and share it with the world. The Solemnity of Mary is at least one day we honor Mary for being used by God to give us salvation. Let’s take this gift for this coming year to share with others. Let’s use the gift that God has given us to share with the world. The Solemnity of Mary is one day. However, we can honor Mary every day by sharing this gift with others.
Brother Brian Boyle, C.PP.S., is a hospital chaplain in Northwest Indiana. He is also the associate director of Companions (lay associates) of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood.