Happy New Year! It is hard to believe that another year has come and gone, and that we are now beginning the year 2023.
A new year brings with it new opportunities, new challenges, and new things to look forward to. It also gives us an opportunity to stop and reflect on where we have been, and to give thanks to God for all the blessings that we have received from him, even if they aren’t always apparent.
For us as Catholics, this celebration of the new calendar year comes several weeks after we have begun our new liturgical year: and it falls right in the middle of the Christmas Season! Today, on this Eighth Day after Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. We recognize, as was declared by the Council of Ephesus in 431, that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ, who is both God and man. She did not give birth only to Jesus’ humanity, because his two natures (human and divine) cannot be separated. Although Mary did not “originate” or “generate” God, she did bear Him in her womb and give birth to Him. She was God’s mother.
Like many aspects of our faith, this can be difficult to comprehend or understand. Thankfully, Mary herself gives us an example of how to approach these great mysteries of our faith. We read in today’s Gospel that when Jesus was born, and the shepherds made known the message of the angel, Mary “treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.” She may not have understood what it all meant in that moment. However, because she was willing to ponder the message in her heart, she created space for God to help her grow in understanding of the role that her newborn son, who is both God and man, would play in the salvation of the human race.
By learning to ponder and reflect on the events of our lives, we can begin to see how God’s blessings are ever present in our lives, especially in the most difficult moments. In doing so, we can allow the blessings of the Lord to come upon us, according to the words of today’s First Reading:
The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you;
the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.
May you receive rich blessings from the Lord as we begin this new year, and may you be strengthened by the knowledge that our God always walks with us to give us his blessings.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Steven Huber, CSB