January 1, 2016 Octave Day of Christmas Deacon Steve

The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
January 1, 2016

Reading 1 Nm 6:22-27

Responsorial Psalm Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8

R. (2a) May God bless us in his mercy.

Reading 2 Gal 4:4-7

Alleluia Heb 1:1-2

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 2:16-21


1 Jan 2016             what keeps us from saying “yes”?

The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

In some of the Christmas cards we receive, a letter is included that gives the annual highlights for that family. It’s a nice way to catch up with friends you don’t see very often.   If the Holy Family sent out a Christmas card, I wonder what details Mary would put in the letter?  How would Mary summarize the first chapters of Matthew and Luke? In the Gospel today we hear that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  I’ll be she could write a great Christmas letter.  Would she talk about the hardships of their life and describe the many dangers she and Joseph faced when Jesus was born? She could mention that becoming pregnant before marriage was a crime punishable by death in her day. Instead, she might mention what a loving and devout husband Joseph was. She could mention how unfair it was that she had to travel to Bethlehem when she was 9 months pregnant. Instead, she might point out that Bethlehem means “house of bread” in old Hebrew and that her Son is the Bread of Life.

She could mention the challenge they had finding a place to stay in Bethlehem when she was ready to give birth. Instead, she might mention that Jesus is the Lamb of God and how appropriate it was that Shepherds were His first visitors.  She could mention the difficulties of giving birth in a stable and putting her baby to sleep in a manger. Instead, she might talk about the irony of Jesus lying in a feeding trough as a baby and later offering His body as Food for us to eat during Mass.  She could mention that her family was in great danger when Herod sent his soldiers to kill Jesus. Instead, she might tell us about the incredible visit from the Magi and how God’s plan got them to safety in Egypt. She could mention that when she said “yes” to the angel Gabriel at the Annunciation, she had no idea what she was getting into. Instead, she might tell us it wasn’t easy, but she said “yes” to God every day because she knew He had a plan for her life and would take care of her.  Mary gives us an incredible example of accepting God’s plan in her life.  As we look forward to the unknowns of a new year, what keeps us from saying “yes” to God’s plan in our lives each day of 2016?

I know it’s hard to accept God’s plan when we don’t know what it is but we need to pay attention. Being open to God’s plan each day can be as simple as helping people God puts in our path:

  • Having patience with the person blocking the aisle in the grocery store.
  • Controlling our temper when a reckless driver cuts us off.
  • Avoid being judgmental of people who look, talk or smell differently.

I want to share an idea from a homily that Pope Francis gave. He said that praying the Our Father is a chance to think about what we need each day. In the Our Father we ask: “give us this day our daily bread”.

Praying this acknowledges we need God’s help each day to live, but it is also an opportunity to ask for everything we need: faith, hope, love, patience, healing, etc:

  • Give us this day the faith we need.
  • Give us this day the hope we need.
  • Give us this day the love we need.

There will be many cold dark mornings in 2016 when it may be difficult to say “yes” to God but let us remember the example of Mary’s life and ask God for the help we need to get through each day.

When I became Catholic 16 years ago, I got to learn about Mary, our Blessed Mother in a whole new way. I grew up in the Lutheran church, so I learned that Mary was the Mother of God but her role in Catholic church is a little different. When I learned about Mary through the historical lense of the Catholic Church I came to better appreciate her life and her role in our Salvation. As we have heard in the Christmas readings, her life was not easy but she continued to keep her faith in God and say yes to His plan for her. From the Annunciation to Pentecost, Mary continued to keep her faith in God and say yes.

click here to listen to homily