Happy New Year today! At the beginning of the New Year, during the first reading, we read the blessing of the Lord for Israel. Through Jesus Christ, this blessing is now the blessing for every nation, including our nation. So , may the Lord bless all of you this year. May the Lord keep you all safe this year. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you. May the Lord be generous to you. May the Lord be kind and merciful. May the Lord give you peace.
This blessing is not simply well-wishing. The Lord says that the point of the blessing is so that his name will be invoke over the people. Aaron and his descendants gave this blessing by using the name of the Lord. Following long-standing tradition, we do not pronounce that name, that mysterious name, at Mass. Anyway, we do not know how exactly to pronounce it.
But we do pronounce the name of the Lord: Jesus. This was the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. This was the name given by the human parents of Jesus at his circumcision. This is the only name that has been given to humans so that we might be saved.
How sad it is that some people only call upon the name of Jesus in blasphemy and cursing, when they are angry or surprised. We have been given the name of God, and the power to call on God by that name. Never misuse that power by saying the name “Jesus” without meaning it.
But do not be afraid to call on the name of Jesus at all times. The world makes fun of us for praying to Jesus. If a football player prays before a game, they fun of him for the idea that Jesus cares about a football game. They are right that he does not care about the game, but he does care about every single person involved.
Whatever we do, every single moment of our life, should have the name of Jesus invoked upon it. If you cannot say, “In the name of Jesus I pray that I may do this well” then you should not do it. We cannot ask Jesus to help us sin, but otherwise we should ask him for grace to do whatever it is that we are going to do each day.
Happy Mother’s Day today! Hallmark might insist that Mothers’ Day is in May, but the Church celebrates maternity today, on the first day of the year. Today the Church celebrates the maternity of Mary, Mother of God.
The title of Mother of God is truly the primary title of Mary. By calling her the Mother of God, we first of all declare that Jesus, her son, is God. Thus Mary is called the Mother of God not by analogy or simply as a phrase to honor her but because she truly is the mother of a person who is God.
Mary is the Mother of God because Jesus took his human nature from her. In modern scientific language we would say that his DNA was constructed from her genetic material. God did not simply put a baby inside of Mary. When the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, a baby was conceived in her womb. The exact medical way this happened is not revealed to us and does not need to be, but it is important that we understand that Jesus is truly the son of Mary.
Mary is the Mother of God because of the nine months during which her womb contained what the universe could not contain. Mary's unimaginable relationship with God is emphasized by this time. Mary could feel God growing within her. Mary felt God kick as his legs and arms grew. Mary protected and nourished God with her own body because God chose to be weak, as weak as a fetus.
Mary is the Mother of God because, without loss of her virginity, she gave birth to God. Whether this birth happened in the way that we normally see or if it was free of the pains that usually accompany childbirth, we do not know. We know only that she gave birth to her son, Jesus, who is God, and then wrapped him in swaddling clothes and held him and nursed him and changed his diapers. In all the ways that a mother cares for a little baby, Mary cared for Jesus.
Mary was the Mother of God when she saw Jesus suffer and die. She experienced all the pain a mother could know to see her beloved child suffer. She was present for the first step and the first word and the first miracle. She was present throughout his whole life here on earth. She participated in that life according to her proper role. She stood at the foot of the Cross, giving no thought to the suffering she experienced, she was there to give whatever little comfort was in her power by suffering with him.
When Jesus rose from the dead, he appeared to many, but it is not recorded that he appeared to his mother. This may be because the intimate meeting is not in Scripture, or it could be that Mary was glad to receive every blessing, and was the blessed one who did not see and yet believed.
Jesus cared for his mother. On the cross he made certain that she would be cared for for the rest of her life on earth. At the end of her earthly life, God brought her into heaven, body and soul, where she is with her son for all eternity, forever worshipping the Most Blessed Trinity. There she was crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth. There she prays for us, her adopted children.
Mary is the Mother of God, and she is also our mother, given to us by Jesus. In heaven our loves will all flow through God, so we will love most dearly the one whom God loves most dearly: his mother. The stronger our relationship with God, the more we will love Mary. Anyone who says that they love God but not his mother, is seriously mistaken. There can never be a question of jealousy on God's part when we honor Mary. She will always say, as she said at Cana, "Do whatever he tells you."