Gospel & Homily MP3 version Gospel & Homily PDF version
Happy New Year dear brothers and sisters! Happy Feast Day of Mary, Mother of God!
To some people it sounds strange to call Mary the Mother of God. They understand that she is the Mother of Jesus, but why call her the Mother of God? In the first few centuries of the life and history of the Church there were many arguments about the mystery of Mary’s motherhood.
It was because some believed that Jesus was God but only pretending to be human. Others believed that Jesus was truly a man but only blessed by God and not actually God Himself. It took quite some time for the Holy Spirit to help people understand that Jesus is truly God, the only-begotten Son of God the Father, and at the same time, Jesus is truly human, the son of Mary by the mysterious overshadowing of the Holy Spirit who conceived Jesus in her womb.
Can we try to imagine what it must have been like for 13 or 14-year-old Mary to receive the visitation of the Archangel Gabriel and his astounding message? We have trouble trusting in God for our health or daily bread or job or marriage or harmony in our family or peace in the world. I don’t think we would react very well to the visitation of an angel from heaven.
Zechariah, the father of the child who later grew up to become John the Baptist, was a priest. He was a good and holy man of God; yet even he had trouble believing the Archangel Gabriel who appeared to him with a heavenly message. As a result of his unwillingness to believe, Zechariah was struck dumb by God. God’s plans for humanity are not trivial because they are about life and death, but more importantly, they are about our eternal salvation.
The heritage that God our Creator has in store for every human being is eternal life. To live forever, without any ending at all, is a very big deal. Eternal life is so precious that its value is impossible to calculate. In any event, eternal life cannot be bought or sold, and no human being will ever be able to produce eternal life. Living forever is a gift that only God can give.
The quality and the kind of eternal life into which we will enter at the moment of our death, when we leave behind our mortal earthly home, depends on the quality of life we will have put together all along the way leading up to our final moments and our final breath on this Earth.
When Jesus had become a man and entered into his public mission entrusted to Him by the Father, He made it crystal clear that our eternal life will be either happy or miserable based on whether or not we become willing to live our life out of confidence in God and love for others; as opposed to living our life out of fear and obsession with our own selfish impulses.
That is why today’s Solemn Feast of Mary Mother of God is also the World Day of Peace. It is God’s design that human women have been created with an innate capacity and willingness to give life and to nurture life. There is no equivalent feast of fatherhood because all men are called to give life by lovingly and generously putting themselves at the service of all women.
We could well ask ourselves one simple question: “Am I living my life out of love, or out of fear?” Many men are called by God to follow Jesus and serve humanity as priests, but so many don’t answer the call; it is probably out of fear. Many of us priests could be more generous or dedicated as we are called to be; but we might be afraid. Many infants in the womb never see the light of day, but instead are torn to shreds and ripped out of their mother’s womb; again, it is probably out of fear and probably more the fear of the man than the fear of the woman.
You see, God loves us so much that He has designed our human life in such a way that we never have to live in isolation, but rather, in the warmth and harmony of family life and human community. If we live in isolation it is all too often because we make choices based on fear and not on love. Love pulls us away from the objects of our fear in order to draw our attention to the God who loves us and wants to fill us with his love. God wants every woman to be cherished and surrounded by those who love and support her, and similarly, God wants every man to be respected and surrounded by those who love and support him.
When the Archangel Gabriel appeared to Zechariah and Mary, his first words to them were “Do not be afraid.” Gabriel observed that both the old man and the young virgin were startled by his appearing and he immediately addressed their fear and invited them to replace their fear with confidence and trust in God. Opening our heart to others also opens our heart to God.
Through Baptism God has given us the power to become children of God by freely choosing to believe in Him and put our trust in Him. This is faith: choosing freely to put our trust in God even when we don’t understand. It is this faith, this willingness to trust in God no matter what that enables us to receive the relationship God is offering us every moment of every day. As we turn to God with joyful anticipation and hope, we turn our back on fear and open ourselves to be touched and given life by the love of God. We get to know God more personally by reading the inspired Word of God in the Bible, by opening up our mind and heart to God in prayer at all hours of the day and night, and by opening our heart and our hands to our neighbor.
If you haven’t been to confession in a long time, maybe now would be a good time to do it while we are still alive on this Earth. Jesus is there through the priest to give us his mercy.
So let us continue to pray for one another that we might accept the encouragement and grace of the Holy Spirit to open wide our heart, our mind, our spirit and even our body to the presence and the love of God: the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Let us take a few moments in silence to reflect on this Good News given to us by the Lord.
© 2006-2021 All rights reserved Fr. Gilles
Surprenant, Associate Priest of Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montreal
© 2006-2021 Tous droits réservés Abbé Gilles Surprenant, Prêtre Associé de Madonna House Apostolate & Poustinik, Montréal QC