Jan. 1, 2017: Mary, Holy Mother of God
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Have you ever heard of this saying, “A smile is the shortest distance between two people?” A smile is universal language which shows your kindness to the person you see and tells them that you accept them with an open heart. A smile brings people closer. My sister recalls that when she was 7-years old, she saw a smile that she would never forget. There was an all night rosary vigil at our neighbor’s house in Seoul, South Korea. People in the neighborhood came to their home to pray the rosary before a pilgrimage statue of Our Lady of Fatima. When my sister went to their home it was late. As she prayed the rosary with the group, she dozed off and on. At some point when she woke up, she was surprised to see that the Blessed Mother’s statue was smiling at her. She questioned whether she was dreaming, but she wasn’t. Blessed Mother’s smile brought my sister close to Heavenly Mother’s tender and compassionate heart. It seemed as though Heaven was touching earth at that moment.
I wonder what the shepherds were thinking as they gazed at the infant Jesus in the crib. The shepherds were lowly, outcasts of society, yet the angel appeared to them. Perhaps they were pondering the words of the angel, “For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord...Glory to God in the Highest.” Perhaps they wondered in amazement how God in flesh was shining his countenance upon them. The words of Aaron’s priestly blessing from today’s First Reading was realized in flesh, “The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
In celebrating the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the Church reminds us that Blessed Mother, more than anyone else, received this blessing. In her, Aaron’s blessing finds fulfilment, for no other creature has ever seen God’s face shine upon it as did Mary. She gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him and gaze at him. How did Blessed Mother use this blessing in her life?
Blessed Mother understood that God made himself poor for our sake, to enrich us with his poverty full of love, to urge us to share in that poverty and share his love with all. With unselfish love Blessed Mother devoted herself to loving her son, Jesus, and being his first disciple as she watched and learned the ultimate meaning of his vocation in God's Plan, giving himself to that plan with heart and soul. She tended to her son’s wounds beginning with the wound from his circumcision and ending with the wounds from his passion and death on Calvary. Blessed Mother invites each of us to help tend the wounds that others carry in life. We can be a blessing to others by offering simple acts of love. Mother Teresa would often say, “Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love. Let anyone who comes to you go away feeling better and happier.”
Like the shepherds who returned to the village glorifying God and spreading the message of Christ, we too are invited to joyfully spread this amazing Good News of the messiah, the Prince of Peace. Spreading the message could begin with offering a simple smile to others in the grocery store, helping a homeless person, or visiting a homebound person, but it does not end there. Until we, our community and our world, are living in the true peace of Christ, then we have much work to do.
Blessed Mother is giving all of us her motherly love and encouragement in order for us to accomplish the mission we have received from our Baptism--to be Christ to others. She invites us to follow her example and she teaches us that nothing is by chance: neither pain, nor joy, nor suffering, nor love. All of these are graces which Our Lord grants to us and which lead us to eternal life. She asks us to do everything in the name of her Son with patience and mercy, and accept pain and offer our sacrifice for the sake of others. Every moment of our lives, Our Lord is gazing at us and smiling at us. We are to carry that smile on our faces as a blessing for others. The promise of Christmas is that our God loves each one of us and that he will love us until the end of time!
I leave you with this priestly blessing from Aaron in song.
The Lord bless you and keep you;
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
To shine upon you and be gracious
And be gracious unto you
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you,
The Lord lift up the light of His countenance upon you
And give you peace, and give you peace;
And give you peace, and give you peace
Amen, amen, amen, amen, a-men, a-men, a-men.
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