Homily – January 21

I’ve always found January 1 st to be a cluttered day. We’re all winding down from our Christmas celebrations and here we are with another feast. In days past this was always the feast of the circumcision of Jesus. Now we celebrate the feast of Mary the Mother of God and it is also the world day of prayer for peace and of course it is New Years Day.

In the year 431 a church council held in Ephesus, which is in modern Turkey, declared Mary to be the Mother of God. St. John Chrysostom, one of the early Fathers of the Church has this to say about Mary being the Mother of God. “Believe what we say about the Virgin then, and do not hesitate to confess her to be both servant and Mother of God, both virgin and mother. She is a servant as the creature of him who was born of her; she is the Mother of God inasmuch as of her God was born in human flesh. She is a virgin because she did not conceive from the seed of man; she is a mother because she gave birth and became the mother of him who before all eternity was begotten of the Father.

In Paul’s letter to the Galatians Paul shows us the implications of the birth of Jesus on each one of us. God sent his son into the world, born under the law to redeem those who were under the law. Jesus became son of Mary that we might be sons and daughters of God. The birth of Jesus is the foundation of our personal status before God. St. Paul tells us that before the world began God chose us in Christ to be his adopted sons and daughters. Jesus became one with us so that we might be elevated to the status of children of God, for that is what we are.

Beyond all these things we basically see this day as New Year’s Day. That’s why we greet one another with the simple words, “happy new year.’ It is a day of new beginnings. We’ve made our own unrealistic resolutions about eating and drinking less, doing daily exercises, going to the gym more regularly etc etc. But we know from sad experience these sincere resolutions will fade away.

When we look back over the past year we remember un kept promises, un kept resolutions, many things we neglected to do, un-made phone calls, un-written letters. Maybe there are some things we remember with shame. We remember things we’ve done and things we left undone. Some of these memories can weigh us down with shame and guilt.

St. Paul never forgot he persecuted the early Christians, he saw himself as the least of all the Apostles but in one of his letters he offers great advice to all of us who may be haunted by past sins and mistakes. Paul writes ‘there is one thing I do, I forget what is behind and I strive on to what is ahead and I go with confidence to the throne of grace.”

We are all mistake making beings but mistake making being deeply loved by God. Let’s begin this New Year forgetting what is behind. May we have the boldness to go with confidence to the throne of grace and love.