Homily for January 1, 2017. Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.
Bible Study: Numbers 6:22-27, Galatians 4:4-7 and Luke 2:16-21.
Our first reading this morning contains powerful blessings. And I pray for you this morning that these blessings will surround you, uplift you and catapult you to a higher level in Jesus Name. Amen. They say the beginning shows the end, the morning shows the day, it is how you lay your bed that you lie on it. You have started well already this year by honouring God in coming to begin your New Year in the house of God. In fact, I consider that this year which begins with a Sunday is a special year.
Just yesterday I read about a popular man who made fifty prophecies about the year 2017. He said so many things would happen and I guess this pattern would be followed by others who love to gain popularity among their followers. Please do not go after any man or woman who wants to tell you how tomorrow will be. Everything about the future has already been revealed by God and it is contained in the Bible. You do not need me to tell you anything different from what God himself has already said and if I must prophesy there is only one thing I would say: Just as you saw the end of 2016, you shall see the end of 2017 and everything it brings, the world itself is coming to an end and no one knows when. Are you prepared?
As much we are desire to receive blessing from God this new day, as much we like to hear prophecies of good tidings to kick us off in a happy and joyful mood, as much as we all desire to have a refill of hope and enthusiasm on this day, let us remember that with God, there is always a time for everything. Our second reading today tells us: “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law.” Galatians 4:4-5. Jesus Christ could not have been born a year earlier or later. There was a specific time under the calendar of God. There is a time for your blessing. There is a set time for your breakthrough. Keep looking up to God. Keep trusting him. Keep being steadfast in your prayer.
Lazarus was already dead four days yet Jesus did not arrive late. The widow of Nain attended the funeral procession of her only son yet it was not too late for Jesus to wake him up. Jairus daughter was sick and by the time he brought Jesus home, he met flute players singing funeral hymns, they asked him not to bother Jesus yet Jesus proved to them that he did not arrive late. He said “Talita cumi” Dear friends, your time is your time. I don’t want you to have any false hope instead I want you to deepen your trust in God because when he wants to act, no one can stop him.
Exactly eight days ago, we celebrated the birthday of Jesus Christ. Although many argue that Jesus was not born exactly on the 25th of December, the point is that is the day we choose to use for his birthday and anyone who disagrees is free to pick another day for himself or herself so long as the birth of Jesus is celebrated. So, following the tradition and custom of the land, on this day, the newly born baby was given the name, Jesus. As Luke tells us, this was the name given by the Angel before he was conceived in the womb.
Names are not mere means of identity. Names carry a lot of meaning and a name can define the future of a person. The Name Jesus means “Saviour.” In the course of his life, Jesus did exactly what that name meant. He saved the world and even today, he continues his ministry of salvation. 2017 is like a new born baby. It is the name you call it that it will answer. Give this New Year a name and you will be surprised how 2017 will fulfil every single detail of the name you have given to it. Today is not a day to complain at all. Please speak blessing over your 2017. Say everything good and positive about this year. It will listen, it will obey.
On this day that the baby Jesus is named, one happy woman is Mary. Have you ever seen a woman after delivery? Do you know how happy she is? She has just faced the life or death process of giving birth. To eventually carry her baby is her greatest joy. Even the bible acknowledges that the presence of a baby makes a woman forget the pains of nine month pregnancy. In other words, today is a Mary’s day. No wonder on this day, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
In today’s Gospel passage, we are told “She treasured all these things in her heart.” As we begin a New Year, we ought to emulate the outstanding disposition of Mary. She was told she had a great responsibility to carry and she did not complain, she was waiting for it. All she said was, “I am the handmaid of God, let it be done according to God’s will.” Mary accepted the plan of God in her life, she took in the highs and the lows, she was ready for the joys as well as the pains involved. She never gave up but continued to look forward gallantly in hope to that day of her reward when all generations would actually start calling her blessed.
Mary is so outstanding today because she knew her role in God’s plan and was willing to obey every detail, every command to the letter. When the Child was born, she gave the very name “Jesus” in obedience to the Angel’s instruction. She knew that through her, God was about to fulfil his promise.
Lastly, today is the world day of Peace. Let us as Pope Francis admonish follow the footsteps of Saint Therese of Lisieux:
“Practice the little way of Love. Never miss out on a kind word, a smile or any small gesture which sows peace and friendship.”
In other words, I must henceforth smile at anybody I meet regardless of what or who that person is to me. I must spread joy and peace. I must follow the manual that Jesus gave in the beatitudes. I must be meek, merciful, peaceful, pure in heart, hunger and thirst for justice. I must actively show mercy by refusing to discard people, by refusing to harm the environment, by refusing to engage in competitions with others whereby I seek to win at all costs. This New Year, I must banish violence from my heart, I must banish violence from my words, (no more shouting at others, no more insults), I must banish violence from my deeds (no more jungle justice). Every one of us can champion peace.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of a new year. Amen
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. Happy Sunday and Happy New Year.