Mary, Mother of God        

            A BLESSED NEW YEAR TO ALL!!!

            Many people approach me and say, “Father, please, bless me.” And I always wanted to ask them, “How would you like to be blessed?” But instead of asking a profound question, I simply do what they expect me: Put my hands over their heads and say a little prayer for them. But allow me now to ask that question to you? How would you like to be blessed? What blessings would you like to receive from God?

            Today’s first reading contains the so-called “priestly blessing” that was entrusted to Moses, Aaron, and their children. It says, “The Lord bless you and keep you! The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!” “To let the Lord’s face shine upon us” is to see the presence of God in all the events of our life, and to see woven in them the Lord’s strengthening, correcting, helping, teaching, guiding, healing, redeeming, and saving graces.

            There is a presence of the Lord in everything that happens to us. One resolution we can bring to this new year is to try to see the “face of God” – to discern his Presence and his Word to us in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. We must try to see God’s presence and purpose in everything that occurs in our life.

            Another way of putting it: We must learn to be contemplative like Mary. In very few words, today’s gospel tells us much about Mary. With great serenity she contemplates the wonderful things and the difficult things that surround the birth of her Son Jesus. St. Luke tells us that she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She studies these things… ponders them… and stores them in the silence of her heart – in short, she contemplates them.

            What does it mean to be a contemplative person? We all lead lives of contemplation because we are always thinking. The question is: What are we thinking? We think about our personal life, our family, our relationships. We think about our tasks, our jobs, our responsibilities. We think about our finances, our health, our security. We have to realize how creative human thought is. If we send our thoughts down one road, our actions will follow. The actions of our lives are influenced and even determined by our last most dominant thought.

            For example, for more than 2000 years the saints have lived in every country, in every generation, have been rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated, lay and religious, and so on. They are the most diverse group of people in history; and, yet, we could say the same thing about every one of them: They bring Jesus to life for us. Why? Because every single saint in history spent his or her life pondering, contemplating the very same thing: the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Mary included. They became what they thought. And when they went to act, their last most dominant thought was the life and teaching of Jesus Christ.

            As we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, and as we welcome the New Year, 2017, let us allow ourselves be inspired by the Blessed Virgin Mary for us to be contemplativeto see the presence of God in all the events of our life. Let this be our new year’s resolution: To think more and more of the life and teachings of Jesus. Just imagine the great implication of this: If our last most dominant thought before acting is always the life and teachings of Jesus it will radically change our lives! It will change the way we view our life – the meaning and purpose of our life. It will change the way we look at and relate to one another, and the way we treat the least, the last, and the lost. It will change the way we live out our commitments, perform our responsibilities, and accomplish our missions. It will even change the way we communicate in social media.

            Let us invite more silence into our lives. By inviting more silence into our inner chamber, with Mary’s help, we allow the Lord Jesus to enter… to dwell in our hearts… to inhabit our thoughts… to influence our feelings. May we imitate Mary, Mother of God and our Mother. May we become more and more contemplative people – pondering in our hearts the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that we may become the person God has created us to be: saints.

            Let me end by blessing you – using the priestly blessing in today’s first reading. May the Lord bless you and keep you! May the Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! May the Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

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