Mary Mother of God - Fr. Pete Iorio
January 1, 2021 - 10:00 AM
I am going to start this homily by quoting from the end of mass. On special days and in special seasons, a priest can offer a solemn blessing. There is one especially for New Year’s Day. It actually has three prayers and the people respond a man to each of them before receiving the Trinitarian blessing. To bless in Latin is benedicere: to say good things. Everyone likes blessings.
May God, the source of the origin of all blessing, grant you grace, pour out his blessings in abundance, and keep you safe from harm throughout the year.
May he give you integrity in the faith, endurance in hope, and perseverance in charity with holy patience to the end.
May he order your days and your deeds in his peace, grant your prayers in this and in every place, and lead you happily to eternal life.
Do you consider that you are a blessed person? I know some people think that they are cursed, the bad things happen all the time. Some might even say that last year 2020 was not a blessed year.
Today our first reading from numbers talks about a blessing.
In the Gospel of Luke at the visitation, Mary is greeted by Elizabeth: Blessed are you among women.
Many of us in this country think that we are blessed because we have housing, family, car, food, vacations, second houses, freedoms, etc. Mary’s blessings didn’t come in these ways. She was poor. She faced an unexpected pregnancy. She lived under foreign occupation. And she had to deliver her baby in a stable because there was no room in an inn. After Joseph died, she had to raise Jesus on her own. And when she accompanied Jesus as a disciple, she had nowhere to lay her head, just like him. Then she endured the agony of seeing her son beaten and crucified.
Surely these didn’t seem like blessings! We remember her great song of praise called the Magnificat. My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoice in God my Savior. For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day, all generations will call me blessed.
So how did Mary recognize and receive her blessings? Today’s gospel gives us the answer: She “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Mary remembered and she pondered. Perhaps she asked God, “ how can this be? Or What are you doing here? How are you fulfilling your promise to me? Teach me and help me to trust you.” As her life progressed, she continued to understand more and more about what it meant that her child was the eternal Son of God and what her role was in God’s plan of salvation. So Mary can teach us how to open our hearts to all of God’s blessings.
Like Mary, recall God’s faithfulness. Try to identify his blessings from last year—some that were obvious and some that came wrapped in a package of suffering. Ask the Lord to help you see how he fulfilled his promise of blessing in 2020. And dream a little. How might God want to bless you this coming year? He is faithful to his promise. He will bless you!