HOMILY FOR JANUARY 1ST, SOLEMNITY OF MARY MOTHER OF GOD.
THEME: Living Within God’s Vision In 2023.
BY: Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Today marks the start of the calendar year 2023, and I wish everyone a Happy and Prosperous New Year. The Lord instructed Aaron and his sons through Moses to invoke this blessing on his people. “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!” (Numbers 6:22–27). This is my prayer and wish for you this New Year.
Saint Irenaeus of Lyon said something that I really liked. It has helped me a lot in my spiritual life, in examining my conscience, and in praying before the Blessed Sacrament. He said, “For the glory of God is the living man, and the life of man is the vision of God.”
Saint Irenaeus conveys two messages with this quote: “being a living person” and “living within God’s vision.” And if what he said is fully understood, it could be a great way to get started and move on in the new year.
“Being a living person” does not entail being healthy, wealthy, possessing a college degree, volunteering, hiking, traveling, marrying, or not marrying, having children, or not having children, climbing professional ladders, living the so-called “American dream,” or any other good things and activities that we may engage in. Instead, it means living within the plan that God has for you.
Saint Irenaeus implies that when a person lives within the divine plan of God for him, he is fully alive; he becomes a manifestation of the glory of God. In other words, true life comes exclusively from God and exists only when we are in a loving relationship with God. The life of man is “living within God’s vision for us.”
Additionally, Saint Irenaeus is saying that God is the vine, and we are the branches. Whoever dwells in God and God in him will bear much fruit, for we can do nothing apart from God (John 15:5). To become estranged from God is to lose our root and source of sustenance, which leads to death.
In this New Year of 2023, give God his rightful place in your life. You can do this by making the sacred Scripture, as interpreted and taught by the Catholic Church in her doctrines, the source and summit of your life. The doctrines of the Catholic Church are the most certain, clear, and safe way to become the glory of God and live the way God wants you to.
You can become a manifestation of the glory of God through daily prayers such as saying the holy rosary, reading the Bible, and other Catholic spiritual books. Resolve to bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead. Additionally, pick at least one person or a charity organization to support through acts of kindness and volunteering your time, among other good corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
Today is also the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. It is a feast to celebrate the motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially her role as a Blessed Virgin in the history of our salvation. The Church looks at her as an example of what it means to be a redeemed and saved person and a disciple of Jesus Christ. She is a great example of how to live a life that is completely devoted to God by following Jesus from his Incarnation, birth, public ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension.
Moreover, Mary continues to assist the Church through her intercessions in fulfilling its destiny. “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:5). Let us ask for Mary’s intercession in order to fulfill our resolutions, plans, and aspirations in the New Year.
The Church has also set today as the day to pray for world peace. In 1968, when Pope Paul VI initially requested that January 1 be observed annually as the World Day of Peace, he stated that “the world must be educated to love peace, to build it up, and to defend it.”
Peacebuilding can be difficult, especially with the fallen nature that we inherited from our first parents, Adam and Eve. However, it can be built through tolerance, dialogue, education, knowledge, and being compassionate.
Saint Paul, writing to the Philippians (4:9), says, “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Peace is made possible by putting the Word of God into action.
Today, let us ask God to make us men and women who live our lives according to his vision. Let us resolve to become real, dedicated disciples of Jesus, like Mary, the Mother of God. Let us ask God to make us agents of Christ’s peace, especially in our own hearts and in our families, in our church, in our country, and in our world. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Prince of Peace, intercede for us.
Once more, best wishes for the New Year. Rest assured that I am praying for you. Please keep me in your prayers as well.
Fr. Anthony O. Ezeaputa, MA.
Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, Year A
January 1, 2023
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