The Blessing of a Resilient Faith

Luke 2: 16-21
Nm 6:22-27 / Ps 67 / Gal 4: 4-7

Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
(Luke 2:18)

Lord, on this first day of the year,
We honor Mary, Jesus’ mother.
May her example draw us near
To the Infant lying in the manger.

So the shepherds hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told. On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise the child, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he was conceived. (Luke 2:16-21)

Reflection

Happy New Year! In today’s Gospel of Luke, Mary, the mother of Jesus took the time to reflect on the strange events surrounding her Son’s birth. It had not been easy travelling from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem in Judea, (in obedience to a Roman decree to register) at a time when she was about to give birth. All the inns were fully booked, and they had been forced to take shelter in a cave, fit only for horses and cattle. But this humble and strong lady took it all in stride, happy in the thought that despite all the miserable conditions they were being subjected to, she was the mother of the Messiah, the Lord and Savior of all mankind. And her confidence was confirmed by the shepherds who came to give homage to her Son. They told her about the hordes of angels who had proclaimed His birth. Not long after, the magi from far-off lands would also pay them a visit, bearing gifts fit only for a king.

A new year is again upon us. How fast a whole decade seemed to pass. And yet just a few months ago, it had seemed to take forever to end. I guess we’re just relieved that that tumultuous period is over, and it’s time to look forward to a better year and a future filled with more confidence. Indeed the year past had been full of doubts and fears: starting with an inexperienced president, with a “lightweight administration”, who was immediately put to the test by a hostage crisis that ended with several tourists bring killed. His resolve was also challenged by allies of the former president, an independent judiciary and deep-rooted corruption in various government agencies. The economy was still struggling with a global economic crisis, and the situation seemed bleak for a weak government faced with two rebellions, rising crime, corruption in government, and the massive exodus of our jobless to foreign lands. Then suddenly, like the promise of the Bethlehem star, things are looking up again. Latest public opinion surveys show 93% of the country’s population are optimistic about this new year! How did it happen? Whence came this sudden surge of optimism? Perhaps it was simply borne by our strong faith as a Catholic nation.

As Catholics, we are fortunate to have Mary as our model of faith and perseverance. She accepted without doubt the words of the angel during the Annunciation, just as she never wavered in the trials of Calvary. Pope John Paul II was a great devotee of our Mother Mary. In his homily at the turn of the millennium, he said we must be like the Mother of God, always reflecting in our hearts to be grateful for all past events, whether ill or fortunate; to live the present with exuberance (“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”); and to look forward to the future with hope and confidence. And why not, indeed, when we believe that we have a loving and constant Father in heaven, and a Mother who will intercede for us in our times of need?

May this prayer that Moses left Aaron for his people (1st Reading) be ours for this new year: “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Num 6:24-26)

Father God, may Your blessings keep us on the right path, and as we plan our New Year’s resolutions today, we ask for the guidance of Your Holy Spirit, and for the intercession of our Mother Mary, our ideal of faith. Amen.

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