January 1, 2016


January 1, 2016:  The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

How many connections with today can you find?
16 below


For 1st reading 
Te Deum (for 1st vespers)
Pope Francis
Mass homily:  Salve, Mater Misericordiae! is the first line of an ancient hymn we'll sing at the end of Mass:    “Hail Mother of mercy, Mother of God, Mother of forgiveness, Mother of hope, Mother of grace, Mother full of holy gladness.”  Here's a summary of the faith of generations who have sought Mary's intercession and consolation.
We fittingly invoke Mary as Mother of mercy.  Those who cross the threshold of this Door of Mercy are called to enter into the Father's merciful love with complete trust and to know Mary is ever at their side.  She's Mother of mercy because she bore Jesus, the Face of divine mercy, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace.  The Son of God has given us his Mother, who joins us on our pilgrimage, so we're never alone, especially at times of trouble and uncertainty.
Mary forgives, so we can rightly call her Mother of forgiveness.  'Forgiveness' points to the new and original fruit of Christian faith.  A person who can't forgive and forget hasn't yet known the fullness of love. At the Cross, Mary saw her Son offer himself totally, showing us what it means to love like God.  She heard him utter words she probably taught him:  “Father, forgive them; they don't know what they're doing.”  Mary became for us the Mother of forgiveness; following Jesus’ example and by his grace, she could forgive those who killed her Son.
Mary is an icon of how the Church must forgive.  The Mother of forgiveness teaches us forgiveness knows no limits.  Our forgiveness must be as broad as what Jesus and Mary offered.  For this purpose the Spirit made the Apostles ministers of forgiveness, so what was obtained by Jesus' death may reach everyone.
As the hymn continues, “Mother of hope, grace, and holy gladness,” hope, grace and holy gladness are all sisters, gifts of Christ, names written on his body.  The gift Mary gives in offering us Jesus is the forgiveness that renews life, enables us to do God’s will, and fills us with happiness; it frees us to look to the future with joy born of hope.  “Create in me a clean heart, and put a new and right spirit within me....  Restore to me the joy of your salvation.”   Forgiveness is the antidote to the sadness caused by resentment and vengeance; it leads to joy and serenity because it frees us from thoughts of death, while resentment and vengeance trouble the mind and wound the heart, robbing it of peace.
Know Mary is at our side interceding for us.  Allow her to lead us to rediscover the beauty of an encounter with her Son.  Open the doors of your heart to the joy of forgiveness, conscious you've been given new confidence and hope, and make your life a humble instrument of God’s love.  
Cry out to Mary as did God's faithful at the Council of Ephesus:  “Holy Mother of God!”  [Video of whole Mass]
1st vespers homily:  How meaningful to praise the Lord at the end of the year!  The Church on many occasions feels the joy and the duty of lifting up her song to God with the Te Deum, the end of which (“Let your mercy be on us, for we have hoped in you”) specially resonates with us during this Jubilee of Mercy.
The Te Deum helps us see God's works in history and in our own lives; it gives us hope for the new year.  We need to focus on the signs God has given us, to see his love first-hand.  The year has been marked by violence, suffering, and death, but also acts of kindness, love, and solidarity.   The good always wins, even if it can appear weak and hidden.”  Be privileged interpreters of faith, welcome, fraternity, and peace.
World Day of Peace message:  Overcome indifference and win peace:  God is not indifferent!  God cares about us!  We trust 2016 will see us all pursuing justice and peace.  Peace is God’s gift and a human achievement.  We're all called to attain it.
Maintaining our reasons for hope:  War, terrorism, kidnapping, persecution, and misuse of power marked 2015, in some areas constituting a “third world war fought piecemeal.”  But some events inspire me to encourage you not to lose hope in our ability to conquer evil and combat resignation and indifference; they demonstrate our capacity to show solidarity and rise above self-interest, apathy, and indifference:  COP21the Addis Ababa Summit, the adoption of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development....
For the Church, 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of two Vatican II documents that express her solidarity with the world:  Nostra Aetate and Gaudium et Spes are emblematic of the new relationship of dialogue, solidarity, and accompaniment the Church awakened.  Nostra Aetate expresses our openness to dialogue with other religions.  Gaudium et Spes proposes dialogue with the human family about world problems, as a sign of solidarity, respect, and affection.
Pray and work so that every Christian will have a humble and compassionate heart capable of proclaiming and witnessing to mercy.  I hope all of us learn to “forgive and give,” to become more open “to those living on the fringes of society, fringes which society itself creates,” and refuse to fall into “indifference or a routine that prevents us from discovering what's new!”
Believe in our capacity to act in solidarity and demonstrate concern for the more vulnerable and for the common good.  This attitude of mutual responsibility is rooted in our vocation to fraternity and a life in common. Personal dignity and interpersonal relationships constitute us as human beings created in God's image.  As creatures endowed with inalienable dignity, we're interrelated, responsible for others, and act in solidarity with them.  Indifference is a menace to the human family.  Take stock of this, to overcome indifference and win peace. [continued tomorrow]

  • Nm 6:22-27  Lord to Moses:  Bless like this:  The Lord bless you, keep you, shine on you, be gracious to you, look on you kindly, and give you peace!
  • Ps 67:2-3, 5-6, 8  "May God bless us in his mercy."  May all exult and know your salvation; you rule justly and guide us.
  • Gal 4:4-7  God sent his Son to ransom those under the law, so we might receive adoption.  God sent the Spirit into our hearts, crying, “Papa!”  So you're not slaves but children and heirs.
  • Lk 2:16-21  The shepherds found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, then shared the message they were told; all were amazed.  Mary reflected on these things.   The shepherds praised God.  The child was given the name Jesus, the name the angel gave before he was conceived.
      • Creighton:  If you were less familiar with the Christmas story, you'd likely be more impressed with it.  You might be shocked that God our Creator so loved us that he took on our flesh.  His birth had a God-given purpose.  The ancient Hebrews asked themselves, “What nation has a God like ours?”  We Christians ask ourselves the same question. Look at what He’s done!  The Incarnation is hard to believe, but undeniably worth celebrating.
      • One Bread, One Body:  "God was a baby":  On this eighth day of Christmas, we celebrate God's conception.  We speak of Mary as the mother of God.  God really became a human being; he didn't just inhabit a human body or appear in human form.  God was a fetus, then nursed at Mary's breast, talked baby talk, and had to be taught to walk; God took on our weak human nature, was like us in all things but sin, was tempted every way we are, emptied himself...  all out of love.
      • Passionist:  All around us there are reports of violence and expressions of fear, but for people of faith, fear is definitely not the spirit of today.  Count our blessings and give thanks for the gifts of life, faith, family, friends, God’s unconditional love that comes to us through Jesus, Mary's Son.
      • DailyScripture.net:  "He was called Jesus":  For the Jewish people the giving of a name had great importance; a name represented what a person should be.  A name expressed the deepest reality of a person's being.  A Jewish boy was named at circumcision, eight days after birth.  Mary's newborn child was named Jesus, the name God's messenger gave before Jesus was conceived.  This name, 'the Lord saves,' signifies his identity and mission.  The son Mary bore is both God and man, so she's called both mother of the Christ (Messiah) but also mother of God (Theotokos, 'God-bearer').  In the birth and naming of Jesus we see God's wondrous plan to give us a Savior to bring us grace, mercy, and freedom.  Peter exclaimed there's no other name which we must be saved.  In Jesus' name demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised; his name is exalted above every other.  Jesus' name is at the heart of all Christian prayer; we pray to the Father through and in Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit....
      Dress legend
      • 'Clock' tie bar:  When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son (2nd reading); New Year
      • 'Holy Spirit' chain:  God sent us the Spirit crying out, “Abba, Father!” (2nd reading)
      • 'Sheep' tie bar:  The shepherds rushed to Bethlehem... (gospel)
      • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! (1st reading); World Day of Peace
      • 'Mary' pin, 'Blessed Mother blue' shirt:  Mary, Mother of God
      • White in shirt:  today's liturgical color
      • 'Girl with heart' pin:  Mary reflected on these things in her heart (gospel)
      • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' pin, 'angel' pin:  After 8 days, he was named Jesus, the name the angel gave him (gospel); Christmas season
      • 'Streamers' tie:  Happy new year!

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