For Sunday, January 1, 2012
Mary, the Holy Mother of God
The week between Christmas and New Year's is often a time for year-end reviews. News organizations review the happenings of the past year and pick the top contenders for the most important and significant events. (Leading the way this year are the death of Osama bin Laden, the tsunami in Japan, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, the partisan divide in Washington, and the Euro debt crisis.) Of course, it is all a matter of perspective. If one lived in North Korea, the top story would be the death of Kim Jong-il. In Venezuela it might be the fact that the president has cancer, while in Spain, certainly one of the top stories will be the millions of young adults who participated in World Youth Day in Madrid in August.
Even regions within a country can have differing stories that will vie for the top spot. In Texas, this year's top stories will likely include wild fires that swept the state in September, as well as the continuing drought, and Governor Perry's run for the Republican presidential nomination. Meanwhile, Connecticut and Vermont newspapers are much more likely to put Hurricane Irene at the top of their list of important news stories, a storm that was of no consequence to Gulf states, but of severe impact in the Northeast. In Arizona and Georgia, the top category will likely include the fight over each state's recently enacted immigration law, a battle which will continue into the new year.
Of course looking back on the past year is not limited to news stories. At the end of December, critics develop their top ten lists, whether it is for movies, new restaurants in a particular city, or new bands.
It seems natural to look back as one year comes to an end, and another begins.
This feast of Mary, with its Gospel selection from Luke, which ends with the Evangelist describing how Mary reflects on the meaning of these events in her heart, antedates year-end top ten lists. This oldest feast for Mary in the calendar celebrates her motherhood. She is Theotokos, the God-bearer, the human woman in whom the Word of God was incarnate through the power of the Holy Spirit as we confess each Sunday in our creed.
Mary's "Yes" to God at the angel's appearance in Nazareth was brought to fruition in the birth of the Savior of the world, the Light who shines forth in the darkness. Angels heralded his birth, and shepherds came to worship, praising and glorifying God for all that they had seen and heard.
With all of this, it is no wonder that Luke portrays the Virgin Mother as one who now reflects on the meaning of all these things in her heart.
Critics and news gatherers may have spent the past week highlighting what they consider the most important things of the past year. But this feast of Mary invites us to see in her the example of the Christian par excellence: one who reflects on the meaning of God's saving acts. We would do well to spend a few moments in quiet at home in these days before we take down the tree and put away the decorations. Light the tree, look at the manger, enjoy the decorations, and like Mary reflect on the meaning of all these things. What does the birth of the Savior mean for you in the year to come?
Merciful and eternal God,
out of love for sinful humankind
your eternal Word was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mother.
Stir our hearts to conform to your will
that we may be faithful sons and daughters
as was the maiden of Nazareth.
Fill us with the light of your Word
so that the Christ may be born anew in our hearts.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE POLL: Top Stories and Newsmakers in 2011
For Catholics in 2011, the top news story in a poll of religious editors conducted by Catholic News Service was the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal. To see the rest of the list, read the article: www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1104821.htm.
NATIONAL MIGRATION WEEK
Resources for National Migration Week, January 8–14, are now available from the USCCB. Visit their Web site at: www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/. In addition, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has prepared special materials for the Epiphany in both English and Spanish. They are freely available to anyone at: www.archmil.org/Resources/Epiphany2012.htm.
NATIONAL VOCATION AWARENESS WEEK
The USCCB has set National Vocation Awareness Week for January 9–14. The news release from the USCCB, along with links to resources, can be found at: www.usccb.org/news/2011/11-241.cfm.
WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
The annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes place January 18–25. Resources are available from several sources, including the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/weeks-prayer-doc/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20110414_week-prayer-2012_en.html) and from the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute (www.geii.org/). Many dioceses encourage communal prayer to bring an end to the scandal of separation among Christians.
|< Prev||Next >|