Father Valan Arockiaswamy

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HOMILIES

Close Dear Audience,
For better understanding of the spiritual message behind this homily I kindly remind you to first read and contemplate the biblical texts before reading or listening to my preaching - a human reflection on the Word of God!

The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God (Year C)

Jan 2, 2022 Views 218 Listen 2 Downloads 0
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First Reading

A reading from the Book of Numbers (6:22-27)

The Lord said to Moses: "Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites. Say to them: The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them."

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Responsorial Psalm

Psalms of David (67:2-3, 5, 6, 8)


(R) May God bless us in His mercy.

May God have pity on us and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us. So may your way be known upon earth; among all nations, your salvation. (R)

May the nations be glad and exult because you rule the peoples in equity; you guide the nations on earth. (R)

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him! (R)

Second Reading

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Galatians (4:4-7)

Brothers and sisters: When the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.

(P) The word of the Lord.
(R) Thanks be to God.

Gospel

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke (2:16-21)

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
(R) Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

Homily

As we begin a new year our Church invites us to look at the life of Mary, the Mother of God. In today's gospel Saint Luke recounts the shepherds' visit to Bethlehem to see baby Jesus. When they saw him, they made known what had been told them about this child. All who heard were amazed at what the shepherds said, including Mary who treasured it all in her heart.

Even though the Bible does not tell us much about Mary, this verse in today's gospel, Luke (16-21), "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart", alone reveals much about her. She kept these things in her heart, indicates that Mary did not talk a lot about the things that were happening in her life, such as what had been said to her by the angel, by her husband, by her cousin Elizabeth when she visited her or what the shepherds said regarding her child and all the extraordinary circumstances surrounding the birth of her son.

Instead she kept all these to herself. Imagine! Mary was probably only thirteen or fourteen years old, the customary age for betrothal and marriage among the rural Jews at the time. Imagine the emotions she must have felt as she waited for the events to unfold. Despite the assurances of the angel from God, she must have struggled with the terrifying consequences, that of possible rejection and condemnation by society. She must have been bursting to talk to a woman who could personally understand her excitement, her wonder, and probably her nervousness too. But she kept all these things like a secret treasure in her heart and waited for God's appointed time when all would be made clear. At that hour and day of the visit of the shepherds, it was enough for her to be assured that her child was indeed, the Son of God and the hope of Israel.

Some may wonder how she developed such a quiet and holy silence. I think her quiet, resilient faith and courage must have come to her naturally. The angel's greeting, "Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with you", was quite an experience and these words must have meant so much to Mary. Luke writes that Mary was greatly troubled but she began to think with special intensity about what this greeting meant. Some say that Mary was chosen by God to bear His Son not because of any inherent goodness of her own or something righteous in Mary or any accomplishment on her part but because of God's great mercy and goodness toward her.

And Mary consented to God's plan because she knew God's goodness toward humankind including her who needed a Savior too. However, I believe that if she was to receive such a great blessing at such a young age, she also must have been faithful to God at least to some extent. She must have spent much time in prayer, meditating on the holy word of God as revealed to the prophets. When reading and reflecting God's word she must have gained wisdom with a profound humility and acceptance. She must have kept herself pure and incorrupt. Therefore, even though she could not yet understand all that had been said and done, she accepted the plan of God in faith and cooperated fully with Him.

By declaring her faith in God when the angel announced the glad tidings that the Spirit of the Lord would come upon her and that she would give birth to the Savior, and by giving her consent to the birth, Mary was already cooperating with her Son to accomplish His mission.

What is in your heart that you are pondering about here and now? It may be an event that is joyous to you. Or perhaps you may be reflecting on a difficult challenge in your life as we start a new year. In today's world, more than ever, we all need to deliberately ponder and to reflect on life. Numerous times during Jesus' ministry, He taught his disciples the importance of spending time in quiet prayer and reflection. He was the Son of God yet He sought a quiet place to pray to the Father. Reflecting is not always easy. When we are hurting or feeling alone or grieving the loss of someone we love, the last thing we may want to do is to think about the pain or loss. It may be more comfortable to numb the pain. Many times when things begin to occur in our life, which we don't fully understand or accept, we tend to react with needless words which only tend to create more anxiety in our life.

Mary is the perfect role model and the guide to holiness in our lives. Today and everyday let us ask our Mother Mary to walk with us so that her presence and strength may inspire us to accept both the joys and sorrows of life and to experience the peace we desire. Like our Mother let us also hope and trust in God's goodness and mercy, and like her, let us count our blessings, share them and be a blessing to others.

I greet all of you with affection with the same words that the Lord gave to Moses to instruct the priest Aaron and his sons as they blessed the Israelites, Numbers (6:22-27), "May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you. May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace."

What better way to invite our Mother Mary to walk on our side and share our joys and sorrows with us than to praying in a moment of silent the Hail Mary.

(P) Amen.

Happy New Year! God Bless You!

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