Prelude before Mass — Listen (Fr. Ed & Karen Donohue): Mary, Did You Know?
Happy and Blessed New Year to all! Today is the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Theotokos is a term used primarily in the East for Our Lady, literally meaning “God-bearer.” The theological reality implied in the name is that Mary truly carried in her womb, and then gave birth to, the Incarnation, God in human form. So we in the West usually translate the word into “Mother of God.”
However, let’s look at the word for its more literal meaning. Mary bore Jesus; that is, she carried him inside herself, until she gave birth to him in a manger. The emphasis is not only on the birth but also the actual time of pregnancy. For nine months, all who came into contact with her were in the real presence of the divine. Recall her visit to see her cousin, Elizabeth. The child in Elizabeth’s womb, John the Baptist, started leaping with joy to be in the presence of God in Mary’s womb.
Mary serves as an example to us on how we live holy lives. But we too are called to be “God-bearers.” Because of her fiat, her saying “yes” to God’s plan of salvation, Jesus Christ entered the world. He remains with us, most notably in the sacrament of the Eucharist. When we go forth from Mass, we bear God within us, taking him into the world. All that come into contact with us are in the real presence of the divine.
All this is possible because Mary totally gave herself over to God. As good stewards, we are called to do the same. When we say “yes,” we then receive Jesus in the sacraments. We then carry him into a world that needs the presence of the divine more than ever. Our calendar year begins with a reminder of this reality, the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. A good resolution for this New Year is to try hard to bring God to others, just as Mary did for us. May our devotion to her, as Theotokos, be our constant reminder to be theotokos to others (Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS).
I came across this beautiful reflection by Steven B. Cloud to share with you on this New Year’s Day called “A Year of Time.” Though even thinking on the subject of time may prove discomforting, it is not a bad idea—especially at the beginning of a new year. As we look into 2017 we look at a block of time. We see 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days, 8,760 hours, 525,600 minutes, 31,536,000 seconds. And all is a gift from God. We have done nothing to deserve it, earn it, or purchased it. Like the air we breathe, time comes to us as a part of life. The gift of time is not ours alone. It is given equally to each person. Rich and poor, educated and ignorant, strong and weak—every man, woman and child has the same twenty-four hours every day. Another important thing about time is that you cannot stop it. There is no way to slow it down, turn it off, or adjust it. Time marches on. And you cannot bring back time. Once it is gone, it is gone. Yesterday is lost forever. If yesterday is lost, tomorrow is uncertain. We may look ahead at a full year’s block of time, but we really have no guarantee that we will experience any of it. Obviously, time is one of our most precious possessions. We can waste it. We can worry over it. We can spend it on ourselves. Or, as good stewards, we can invest it in the kingdom of God. The new year is full of time. As the seconds tick away, will you be tossing time out the window, or will you make every minute count?
All of us in the parish office wish you and your family a New Year rich in many blessings from God who has given us this gift of time in this new year of grace. Good health, happiness and holiness to you in 2017! Thank you for all you do for Saint Rose Parish and Schools. May God bless you and keep you always in His Love, today, tomorrow, and every day of this New Year!
Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 01.01.17 Gospel
Listen to my homily at Mass this morning: (Deacons gave homilies this week.)
Joyfully in the Lord,
A PRAYER FOR THE NEW YEAR
O God of new beginnings and wonderful surprises, thank you for the gift of a new year.
May it be a time of grace for me, a time to grow in faith and love, a time to renew my commitment to follow Your Son, Jesus.
May it be a year of blessing for me, a time to cherish my family and friends, a time to renew my efforts at work, a time to embrace my faith more fully.
Walk with me, please in every day and every hour of this new year, that the Light of Christ might shine through me, in spite of my weaknesses and failings.
Above all, may I remember this year that I am a pilgrim on the sacred path to You. Amen.
Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish