May His Face Shine Upon You!

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy New Year!  It is a beautiful blessing that we hear from Numbers (6: 22-27) on this solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  The Lord will bless us, and let his face shine upon us, and look kindly and give you peace; he blesses us three times, a hint of the Trinity.  What more could you ask for than this type of blessing on this first day of a new decade?  A blessing from God brings with it a special power, often to give or sustain life to a person or a community.  God is the source of this blessing, and this is unchanging.  It is also a reminder to bless the Lord, to thank him for what he did to us this past Advent and Christmas.  A Jewish person wishes peace to everyone he greets and wishes farewell.  It meant to wish someone a sound mind and body.  However, it came to mean to wish perfect happiness and deliverance that the Messiah would bring.  It is much more profound than saying: Happy New Year!

The first sentence of the gospel (Luke 2: 16-21) tells us that the shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the child.  Mary also went in haste to see her cousin Elizabeth when she heard the news of her pregnancy late in life.  How many Christians make haste today where the things of God are concerned?  Surely if anything merits haste it is the things of the Lord.

I like that the first ones to announce the coming of Christ are shepherds, ones who are not allowed to give testimony in court at that time.  But they give a more important witness in telling whomever they saw about the Child who was born.  We should have the same courage and zeal to announce Christ in the ordinary situations of life.  People around us need a message of salvation, of hope.  God sees their sufferings and doesn’t leave them alone.

Today we celebrate with the Church that Mary is not just Mother of Jesus but Mother of God.  How could it be that a fourteen year old girl, or anyone, is the Mother of God?  Some doubted it in the early centuries and the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD made a solemn declaration that Mary is Mother of God, Theotokos (God Bearer) and your mother!   The people in Ephesus were so happy they carried the bishops on their shoulders in procession when this declaration was made.

In this New Year, this new decade, do not forget her.  Ask her for what you need.  Put an image of her in your living room or bedroom; be close to her, and she will be close to you.   Peace, Shalom!  God wishes perfect happiness for you and your family!

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