My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We are blessed today, as we just unveiled in our Cathedral, this beautiful tapestry as part of the sequence of tapestries dedicated to the saints. And it is fitting that this central tapestry honors Mary who is the Queen of the Saints and of the Angels. And who is the Mother of God and mother of each of us who believes in her Son Jesus Christ.
And as I was reflecting on today’s Solemnity and also the unveiling of this beautiful tapestry, I think it is very fitting that we have done it today, as we mark the passing of 2020, this year that has been so challenging for all of us, with the coronavirus pandemic. And then we do it also at the beginning of the New Year as we celebrating this beautiful Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
Of course, the Church begins every year by honoring Mary. Because in God’s plan for salvation history, Mary brings the new beginning for creation and our fallen humanity.
I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t wait for 2020 to be over. It’s been, as I said, a very challenging year. It’s like a nightmare that we all need to wake up from. Of course, we all know that even though 2020 comes to an end, sadly, the trials and challenges caused by the pandemic do not.
But this great solemnity tells us, that in the Mother of God, we have the hope of a new beginning. Through the fruit of her womb, Jesus, we come face-to-face with the living God.
The blessing that we just heard from Moses in the first reading comes to fulfillment in Mary:
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!
My brothers and sisters, the Lord’s blessings are not for a moment. They are for all time. Even now, he is blessing us in his mercy.
Yes, the world outside may be the same, with its darkness and difficulties and even sufferings.
But now we have the light of Christ. As this Child was born of Mary, he can also be born in our hearts. So we can walk with him all the days of our lives; we can live with no fear. In him, we have salvation, the promise of eternal life.
Personally, I’m excited about this coming year. It is true, we are going to continue to have many challenges and trials. But I believe that this will be a beautiful year of grace and renewal, for the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Later this year, as you probably know, we are going to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the founding of our first parish in the Archdiocese, Mission San Gabriel Arcángel, which was established by the great missionary, Saint Junípero Serra.
And we have this great great mission to continue in the Church. The mission that begin with those missionaries that came 250 years ago.
We have the beautiful duty to continue the mission of St. Junípero and the brave men and women who founded the Church in Los Angeles.
It is, my dear brothers and sisters, the same mission of Mary the Mother of God. To bring Jesus Christ into world. To bring his great light, his saving power to the ends of the earth. To tell the whole world that we have salvation in his Name.
In the Gospel today, we have a simple and beautiful model for our Christian lives in the figure of the shepherds.
As we heard, the shepherds came in haste to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, to adore the Infant lying in the manger. When they found Jesus, “they made known the message” that the angels had told them. And after adoring Jesus, the shepherds returned to their ordinary lives “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.”
My brothers and sisters, like those shepherds, we need to live with our hearts “in Bethlehem.” We need to stay close to Jesus, and close to his Mother and St. Joseph. We need to adore him and to learn from him.
And like the shepherds, we need to glorify Jesus by our lives, by living as sons and daughters of God. We need to spread the love of Christ everywhere, in everything we do! Everyone who know us should be able to say, “Here is somebody who believes in Jesus.”
So, my brothers and sisters, Happy New Year!
So let’s make a new beginning today. Let’s walk with new purpose on the path of salvation. Let’s ask for the grace to trust more deeply in God’s promise of eternity.
And let us entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, our Lady of the Angels. May she help us to love Jesus more and more. And may she help us to make her Son known in the world and to lead everyone to walk in the light of his love.
Again, Happy New Year to all of you and your families!
1. Readings: Num. 6:22-27; Ps. 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Gal. 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21.