My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
First of all, Happy New Year to you all!
I hope that as we gather today for a celebration of Mass and, as I was saying before, ask for the gift of peace that this year will be also a moment of blessings for each one of you and your families.
So, it’s good that we gather for the celebration of the Eucharist this morning to thank God for all his gifts in our lives, especially the gifts we have received during this past year.
So, as we thank God for all of his graces and all of his tender mercies in our lives, today we also ask him for the grace that we need to continue loving him and serving him in this new year that is beginning. That we may live our faith with Jesus Christ with a renewed commitment.
And, as I’ve been saying, let us especially pray for the gift of peace. The celebration of the World Day of Peace was started by now St. Pope VI more than 50 years ago. So, it always good to continue to pray for peace. And the Holy Father every year — Pope Francis this year too — publishes a beautiful, brief document on the specific topic or theme of the World Day of Peace.
So, it is good that we also, especially, unite ourselves with our Holy Father Pope Francis praying for peace.
And as we all know, the celebration of the New Year is always a time for making resolutions — new resolutions. I guess the most popular one is losing weight. I guess. Or exercising or something like that.
But I think it is an interesting tradition that we have in the world and in all the cultures — just to reflect on how we are not yet the people God made us to be. And, as I said over and over again, when I talk about our Christian life is just beginning and beginning again. So, there is always a need for a new resolution to try to do things better.
But also, it seems to me, as I was reflecting on it, it seems to me that making resolutions also expresses the virtue of hope — a confidence that with God’s grace, he will help us to grow and to be better. To do things better.
So, as we start this New Year it is also a moment of hope — trusting in the grace of God and making sure that with those resolutions are not only for material things or physical things but also for spiritual things we can do better in our personal relationship with God and with one another.
But I was also thinking that these resolutions — this desire to do better in every single aspect of our lives — should help us to be more aware of the presence of God in our lives.
Sometimes we just think that we can do things by ourselves, and I think we should never forget that with the grace of God, with the presence of God in our lives, we all can do much better.
And I think the first reading of today’s Mass reminds us that we live in God’s loving presence. Beautiful words:
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!
You see, my brothers and sisters, if we feel and we are aware of the presence of God in our lives — every single moment of our lives or at least as often as we can — then our life is much better because we have God’s love and presence in our lives.
So today, let us ask for that grace to be more aware of the presence of God in our life every single day and as often as we can.
And today we celebrate the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. It is also a beautiful thing that every year we start our year with this beautiful celebration.
Mary is the mother of Jesus and she is our mother. And in a sense that’s the meaning of this season of Christmas — to celebrate the birth of Jesus.
I think we all have been contemplating the beautiful scene of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
And it’s beautiful I think that today we concentrate this special day on the fact that Mary is the Mother of Jesus. And in a sense, as we celebrate that, we also reflect on the second reading of today’s Mass on the fact that we are all children of God:
As St. Paul said in the second reading:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman …
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, as we reflect on the presence of God in our lives, we also need to keep in mind that we are sons and daughters of God. That God is our Father.
So, in this New Year, let us also try to live as children of God. Reflecting on how we want to be good sons and daughters of God.
God is our loving Father and we have to correspond to that by trying to do our best to be good sons and daughters of God.
And finally, as I was thinking of today’s celebration and reading the passage of the Gospel for today’s Mass, I was reflecting on the shepherds — and there were two things that caught my attention.
The first one is that as soon as they receive the message from the angels they went, as the Gospel says:
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, we need to have that same urgency of being with Jesus. Loving him. Getting to know him. Becoming more and more close friends of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
A nice, simple resolution — following the example of those shepherds that received the great news of the birth of the baby Jesus.
And the second point — it says in the passage of the Gospel:
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
Another beautiful resolution — glorifying God with our lives. Glorifying and praising God in the way that we do things. In the way that we relate to each other. In the way that we try to really be good sons and daughters of God.
That means, in a practical way, as Pope Francis says, becoming a missionary disciple. Sometimes we think, in order to be an apostle or a missionary, we have to do great things but we usually do it in the simplicity of our daily life.
So, let us remember always if we praise and give glory to God in our life, even in just the quiet way that we do things, working and helping others, then we can bring others to Jesus.
So, practical things that might be useful for all of us as we start this New Year.
Let us ask Mary our Blessed Mother the Queen of Peace to intercede for us that we will use our time wisely in this New Year. To grow in our spiritual life and the practice of our faith so that we can be good children of God and share God’s peace and joy with others.
I pray that Jesus, the Prince of Peace, may grant each of you and your families and everyone in our Archdiocese, in our city and the whole world real and lasting peace and truly happy New Year.
Mother of God
Queen of Peace
Pray for us!
1. Readings: Nam. 6:22-27; Ps.2-3, 5-6, 8; Gal. 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21.