January 1, 2021
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
( I was invited to offer a reflection for my community for the celebration of New Year’s. I wanted to share it with our larger community here.)
Over the threshold of midnight, we step into the New Year 2021.
And, oh, how we have longed for it
- ⁃ run toward it
- ⁃ run away from what the old year pressed on us
- ⁃ from what we heard unceasingly referred to as “these unsettling times”
Dear friends the phrase puts it mildly, doesn’t it?
Every one of us- to some degree- has felt the
We have been tested in our faith
- our hope
- our love
- and, surely, our courage
We are a world truly brought to its knees as we clothe ourselves in 2021’s first morning.
We come to our prayer to do as our reading from Numbers encourages us, emboldens us to do – to seek a blessing for the New Year:
May the Lord bless us and keep us
shine the face of mercy on us
be gracious to us
look upon us kindly
give us peace
But how will we find such a blessing, my friends, when we know that its hope is hidden in the unrelenting circumstances of our lives?
Let’s consider our Gospel today.
Just as Christ lay shining
but in the damp hay of a dark manger…
Just as the word of his coming was announced
but by rude shepherds who carried the angelic words,
so the blessing will come to us….clothed in the ordinariness of what we already know.
And it is this:
The power of God is always hidden
in the flesh of our daily lives.
Let us turn to Mary today to remind ourselves of this mystery.
Before the Annunciation, when young Mary imagined the Messiah’s coming, do you think she pictured a godforsaken manger and a birth in a barn?
Do you think she imagined herself receiving ponderable angelic words through the mouths of illiterate shepherds?
Mary, whom we celebrate and invoke today, shows us how to take the next step into a new year —a year that will not perceptibly change in its challenges for some time to come.
It, too, will be filled with what looks like mangers and shepherds rather than the heavenly palaces and angels we might desire.
But Mary shows us that faith finds God by surrender to the grace of our ordinary lives.
Today, what we pray for one another through Mary’s intercession, is the grace to find the blessing in this mystery.
We pray to be encouraging witnesses for one another of:
- faith even in darkness
- resilience and courage during extraordinary challenge
- hope in the face of discouragement
- perseverance when we languish
- loving service despite fear
- Mercy pouring over pain
When we do these things, we become the blessing that we seek.
When we, like Mary, keep these things in our heart, we allow Christ to be born again even in our “unsettling” times.
The most ancient prayer to Mary is the Sub Tuum Praesidium, dating from the 2nd century. It seems a perfect way to close our reflection today, and to open our hearts to hope for the New Year:
Under your protection,
we take our refuge,
O Holy Mother of God:
despise not our petitions in our necessities,
but deliver us from all evil,
O pure and blessed one.
A truly blessed and joyful New Year to you all, Beloveds.
Music: Sub Tuum Praesidium in Latin (see above for English)