January 1, 2020


January 1, 2020:  Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God

How many connections with today can you find?
Legend below
For 1st reading
For Psalm 67
Pope Francis

Homily:  Today we celebrate a “nuptial union between God and humanity, one inaugurated in a woman's womb.  Humanity's rebirth began from a woman:  women are sources of life.  So every form of violence to a woman is blasphemy against God, born of a woman.  Women’s bodies must be respected and honored, freed from consumerism, not sacrificed on the altars of advertising, profiteering, and pornography, exploited like a canvas. 

Mary kept all things in her heart.  Women typically take life to heart; they show us that life is not about making things but in taking them to heart.  Only those who see with the heart see properly, because they know how to look into each person.  Only if we take life to heart will we know how to overcome the indifference around us.  If we want a better world, a peaceful home, not a war field, may we take to heart the dignity of each woman.  Women are givers and mediators of peace; they should be fully included in decision-making.  When women share their gifts, the world becomes more united, more peaceful.  Every step for women is a step for humanity.

Mary began the revolution of tenderness, something we're called to continue, for the Church, like Mary, is woman and mother.  In drawing close to Mary, the Church discovers herself, finding her center and unity.  The Church has a mother’s heart.  May Mary give birth to hope within us and bring us unity.   Woman of salvation, to you we entrust 2020; keep it in your heart. 

Angelus:  Today we begin 2020 with gratitude and praise.  Mary blesses us by showing us her Son.  She blesses the Church and world.  Jesus is "joy for all people," God's glory, and peace for humanity.  Jesus, the Savior, is God’s blessing for every person because he defeated evil at its root.  His salvation is not magical but ‘patient,’ involving the patience of love, which takes on wickedness and removes its power.  Jesus reminds us God loves us, even when we lose our self-esteem by remaining prisoners of vicious cycles.

To victims of injustice and exploitation who see no way out, Jesus opens the door of fraternity, where they can find welcome, share bitterness and despair, and recover dignity.  Those who are ill and feel abandoned should remember Jesus is close to them and tenderly touches their wounds, turning weakness into a force for good.  To the imprisoned and those tempted to close in on themselves, he reopens a horizon of hope, starting with a glimmer.

Peace is a journey of hope in which progress is made through dialogue, reconciliation, and ecological conversion.  May we descend from the pedestals of pride and ask for Mary's blessing; she shows us we're blessed in Jesus, so 2020 will be a journey of hope and peace through daily gestures of dialogue, reconciliation, and care for creation.

Peace, journey of hope in the face of obstacles and trial:  Peace is great and precious, the object of our hope and everyone's aspiration.  Hope inspires us and keeps us moving forward, even when obstacles seem insurmountable.  We bear the scars of conflicts that especially affect the poor.  Nations find it hard to break free of exploitation and corruption that fuel hatred and violence.  Many are denied dignity, freedom, solidarity, and hope.  Many are victims of humiliation, exclusion, sorrow, and injustice.  Conflicts affect humanity's body and soul.  War is a form of fratricide that destroys the human family’s innate vocation to brotherhood.

War often begins with the inability to accept others, which then fosters attitudes of domination born of pride, hatred, and the desire to caricature, exclude, and destroy.  War is fueled by perversion of relationships, hegemonic ambitions, abuse of power, fear, and seeing diversity as an obstacle.

Our world tries to ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust that poisons relationships and obstructs dialogue.  Peace and stability can't come from building on fear; they can be achieved only through an ethic of solidarity and cooperation in the service of a future shaped by interdependence and shared responsibility.  Mistrust and fear weaken relationships and increase the risk of violence, creating a vicious circle that can never lead to peace.

We can't maintain stability through indifference and fear of annihilation.  Decisions are being made that lead to people and creation being discarded, not protected.  We can undertake a journey of peace and respect and break the mindset of fear and distrust by pursuing fraternity based on our common origin from God and exercised in dialogue and trust.  The desire for peace lies deep within; we should settle for nothing less.

Peace, journey of listening based on memory, solidarity and fraternity:  Survivors of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki keep conscience alive, bearing witness to the horror and the sufferings, preserving the memory of the victims, so our conscience may rise up in the face of desires for dominance and destruction.  We can't allow the memory to be lost; it ensures and encourages building a fairer, fraternal future.  Others are also working to ensure future generations will remember past events, not only to prevent errors from recurring but also to inspire future decisions promoting peace.  Memory is the horizon of hope.  Remembering a gesture of solidarity can lead to courageous decisions, unleash energy, and kindle hope.

Setting out on a journey of peace is more complex because of conflicting interests.  We must appeal to conscience.  Peace emerges from the heart's depths and political will must be renewed, so new ways can be found to reconcile and unite.  The world needs witnesses, peacemakers open to dialogue rejecting exclusion or manipulation.   We can't achieve peace without dialogue seeking truth.  Peace must be built up; it's a journey in pursuit of the common good, truthfulness, and respect for law.  Listening can lead to mutual understanding and esteem, and even to seeing in an enemy the face of a brother or sister.

The peace process requires commitment.  It seeks truth and justice, to honor the memory of victims and to open the way to shared hope stronger than the desire for vengeance.  Democracy can be an important paradigm, when grounded in justice and commitment to protect the rights of everyone, especially the weak and marginalized, in a search for truth.  It's an ongoing work in which each individual contributes responsibly.  These “two aspirations, equality and participation, seek to promote a democratic society…  This calls for an education to social life, involving not only knowledge of each person’s rights, but also... recognition of his or her duties....  The sense and practice of duty are conditioned by the capacity for self-mastery and acceptance of responsibility and the limits placed upon freedom” (John Paul II).

Divisions within a society, inequalities, and refusal to ensure integral human development endanger pursuit of the common good, but efforts can foster greater compassion and creative solidarity.   Christ gave his life to reconcile us to one another.  The Church shares in the search for a just social order, continuing to serve the common good and nourishing the hope for peace by transmitting Christian values and moral teaching, and her social and educational works.

Peace, journey of reconciliation in fraternal communion:  The Bible reminds us of God’s covenant with humanity, which entails renouncing our desire to dominate and learning to see each other as persons, God's children, brothers and sisters.  We should value others for the promise they embody.  Only by choosing respect can we break the spiral of vengeance and take the journey of hope.

“Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  Seven times?” / “Not seven times, but seventy times seven”  The path of reconciliation calls us to discover the power of forgiveness and the capacity to acknowledge each other as brothers and sisters.  When we live in forgiveness, we become people of peace.

Peace permeates every dimension of life.  There's no true peace without a more just economic system.  “Action is required not only on improving exchange-based transactions and implanting public welfare structures, but also increasing openness to forms of economic activity marked by quotas of gratuitousness and communion” (Caritas in Veritate 39). 

Peace, journey of ecological conversion:  “If mistaken understanding has led us to justify mistreating nature, to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in war, injustice, and violence, we should acknowledge that we weren't faithful to the treasures we've been called to protect and preserve.”

Faced with the consequences of our hostility, our lack of respect for our common home, or our exploitation of natural resources—seen only as source of immediate profit, regardless of communities, the common good, and nature itself—we need an ecological conversion.  This journey also calls for listening and contemplation of the world God has given us to make our common home.  Natural resources, forms of life, and the earth itself have been entrusted to us, also for future generations, through everyone's responsible and active participation.  We need to change how we think and see and become more open to encountering others and accepting the gift of creation.  This gives us a new way to dwell in our common home, accepting our differences, respecting and celebrating the life we've received and share, and seeking living conditions and models of society that favor flourishing of life and development of the common good.  Ecological conversion will lead us to a new way of looking at life, as we consider the Creator's generosity.  This conversion must be understood as a transformation of how we relate to others, creation in all its variety, and the Creator.  The effects of our encounter with Christ must become evident in our relationship with the world.

“We obtain all we hope for”:  The journey calls for patience and trust.  We won't obtain peace without hoping for it.  We must first believe peace is possible and that others need it as much as we.  We find inspiration in God's liberating, limitless, gratuitous, tireless love for each of us.

Since fear is often a source of conflict, we must overcome it and acknowledge our need to the One who loves and awaits us.  The culture of encounter shatters the culture of conflict, makes every encounter possible and a gift of God’s love, leads us beyond our narrow horizons, and encourages us to a live in fraternity, children of one Father.

The sacrament of Reconciliation sustains the journey; it renews individuals and communities, bids us keep our gaze on Jesus, who reconciled all things by making peace through his cross, and requires us to set aside every violent thought, word and deed against others or against creation.  Having received God's forgiveness, we can offer peace to others.  The Holy Spirit prompts us to think and speak in ways that make us artisans of justice and peace.  May the God of peace bless and help us, may Mary accompany and sustain us, and may all experience peace, life, and love.

Full text


  • 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:  Today's readings exhibit such tenderness.  "The Lord bless you, keep you, let his face shine on you, be gracious to you, and give you peace!"  How do we receive the Lord's blessings? Do we bless each other as tenderly as God blesses us?  God sent the Spirit of his Son into us, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  How do we receive God?  Do we receive each other as tenderly?  Mary reflected on all these things; then the shepherds returned, glorifying God.  How do we respond to God’s love and blessing?  Do we respond to each other as tenderly?  God's parental love contrasts with the lofty image of Christ the King, but both images are important and invite reflection and praise.   As God shows tenderness to us, we must show tenderness to each other....
  • One Bread, One Body:  "Peace-monger":  Mary, Queen of Peace, bore the Prince of Peace. "When the designated time had come," she bore a child, "our Peace," who came "to make peace"  "through the blood of His cross" and announce the "good news of peace."  How ironic that Mary, woman of peace, had to live in turmoil and sorrow.  As a teen mom, she had to flee to Egypt as a refugee to save her son from soldiers trying to assassinate him. Even as she raised her Son "to guide our feet into the way of peace," a sword of sorrow pierced her heart.  Finally, she had to suffer agony at the foot of the cross, watching her Son die a humiliating, excruciating death.  With "peacemaker" Mary, begin 2020 by praying for peace.  Join the Queen of Peace in asking the Prince of Peace for shalom.
  • Passionist:  The church puts New Year's Day under the banner of Mary, Mother of God.  Among Mary's many titles, the church highlights her role as Mother of God, again raising up the mystery of the Incarnation.  Since human Mary gave birth to Jesus, human and divine, the Church has always defended her "Mother of God" title.  Our faith reminds us that beneath whatever tensions and anxieties we have about 2020, there's a strong, enduring basis for hope.   Mary's womb was the portal for God's unconditional act of saving love.  Christian hope is not based on human prowess but God’s faithful love.  Trust in God’s love doesn't mean we're indifferent to today's challenges.  We need to choose a "culture of engagement" over a “culture of indifference” engagement,” and use every opportunity, to sow love and justice.   The outcome of strong faith in God’s love enables us to face our challenges with courage and perseverance.  Mary is both sign of God’s love for us as and example of a courageous “yes” to unanticipated challenges.
  • DailyScripture.net:  "He was called Jesus":  A person's name represented what they'd be in the future; it expressed their being at its deepest level.  A Jewish male child was named at his circumcision, eight days after birth; it was a sign of the God's covenant with Abraham and his posterity.  Joseph and Mary gave their son the name Jesus because of the angel's message; the name, 'the Lord saves,' signifies his identity and mission.  Jesus is both God and man, so Mary is called both mother of the Christ ('Messiah') and mother of God (Theotokos, 'God bearer').  The name Jesus signifies that God's name is present in his Son.  Peter exclaimed no other name can save us.  In Jesus' name, exalted above every other, demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised.  Jesus' name is at the heart of Christian prayer; we pray through him to the Father in the power of the Spirit.  May we exalt Jesus' name and pray with confidence in his name.
Dress legend
  • 'Clocks' suspenders:  When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son (2nd reading); New Year
  • 'Dove' pin:  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:  Mary, Mother of God
  • 'Heart' pin (oops, forgot):  Mary reflected on these things in her heart (gospel)
  • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' and 'angel' pins:  After 8 days, he was named Jesus, the name the angel gave him (gospel); Christmas season
  • 'Streamers' tie:  Happy new year!
  • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color

No comments:

Post a Comment