January 1, 2017 – Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

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We all love to be the recipient of gifts. There is something about opening a present, knowing that it was specifically picked out for our enjoyment. Usually, during Christmas we gather as families and bless one another with thoughtful gifts, and when the present is just what we’d been hoping for, that moment often is one we will remember for ages.

This week’s readings are all about blessings.

God in fact knows that what we ultimately need is Him, and so when Moses instructs Aaron on how to bless the children of Israel, it is in fact a message directly given from God to him and passed on to the people of God. It is a message of blessing. We then as a congregation sing the responsorial Psalm: “May God bless us in His mercy.” This is a message of blessing. Again, we truly love to be the recipients of gifts and blessings from our family and friends, and in a way I believe that is something God places within us so that we can begin to realize that God wills to bless us even more than those we care for and call family.

The ultimate gift of God is certainly Jesus, who comes to us, born of a woman as St. Paul’s letter to the Galatians reminds us. This brief nod to Mary is the only Marain reference St. Paul uses in his writings, but it is an important one because the entirety of our salvation is forever connected with this young Jewish woman, Mary. This is a story of God blessing a tiny family which we will be reminded of in the Gospel.

In the Gospel we hear once again the story of the Nativity, and see the paradox of God’s power found in a young teenage mother and a brand new infant. These ‘small’ and humble realities of a woman and child are a profound message of blessing.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. The Church knows that we are often like the Wise Men, on a journey looking for answers, and if we follow their lead we will find the child with His mother. God not only blesses us with a Savior, but He gives to us a family, and specifically a mother. Not just any mother, but the very one Jesus Himself clung to, listened to and obeyed, the woman chosen out of all time to care for Jesus’ every need. This woman is our mother, and if we look a bit closer we will see this is a true and thoughtful, generous and profound gift that is specifically for us. If we can see the beauty and value of this gift, we will be a blessing to others. I am cheering you on today! Know that God could have come and dwelt among us in any way, yet He comes in humility and identifies Himself with us in the most intimate way. Jesus holds nothing back when it comes to blessing, proven by His gift to us of Mary as our mother. I pray this new year you cling to Mary as Jesus did. Learn from her and grow in what it means to be a blessing.

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