Theme: The Path of Reconciliation
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Saturday January 1 2022
It is always a blessing to see the light of a New Year; much more when we have every reason to be thankful for God’s countless blessings in the just concluded year and to be hopeful for greater manifestations of His ever abiding presence with us in the New Year. Our God is the Lord of history and He alone has the power to direct us through History to the full realisation of His purpose for us. We invoke His omnipotence through the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and our dear Mother, especially as we begin each year with the celebration of the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God. May she intercede for us for a fruitful and joy-filled year; Amen.
It is ideally necessary to begin the first day of the year with hearts filled with thanks and more still with the invocation and impartation of God’s blessings upon God’s children. To be blessed is God’s wish for all of us and this is seen in the First Reading (Num 6:22-27) of today’s Solemnity. God gave to Aaron and the priests through Moses words of blessings to be said over the people. It is truly inspiring that the Liturgy of today presents us with these words to be read out to God’s people gathered in the Liturgical Assembly. No formula for blessing could be better to begin the New Year than this which the Lord Himself gave us! In line with this divine mandate, I repeat those words over all of us; “May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.” It is indeed fortunate that this day of blessings fell on a day that, firstly, we mark the World Day of Peace in which Pope Francis reminds us “that peace is based on respect for each person, whatever his or her background, on respect for the law and the common good, on respect for the environment entrusted to our care and for the richness of the moral tradition inherited from past generations.” And secondly a day that also liturgically marks the last day of the Christmas Octave in which the identity of the Son born in our midst is afresh re-presented to us in the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God for in the words of the Second Reading (Gal 4:4-7), “When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable us to be adopted as sons.” Jesus the Son of God and the son of Mary is the Prince of peace!
The Divine Motherhood of Mary was the first of the Marian Dogmas to be proclaimed officially and universally in the History of the Church, at the Council of Ephesus (431) which was convoked to counter and correct the heresies of Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, against the right use of the title Theotokos which means Mother of God to refer to Mary. Nestorius instead preferred to refer to Mary as Christotokos which means Christ-bearer and which would imply that it was only the humanity of Jesus Christ that Mary bore in her womb. But the Gospel of Saint John made it clear that “the Word was God … and the Word was made flesh, He lived among us” (John 1:2, 14). To refer to Mary as only the Christ-bearer (Christotokos) would immediately rupture the hypostatic union in Christ, which means the inseparable union of the two natures in Christ, namely, the divine nature and the human nature without which we cannot truly profess that Jesus is “true God and true Man.” But in the person of Jesus is this inseparable union of His divine nature and His human nature which constitutes the centre of the mysteries in Christ and of our faith in Him and of the salvation He gained for us through His Paschal mysteries. This also is the background of Mary’s blessedness and of all the honour accorded to her in the Church for she is “full of grace and blessed is she among women and blessed is the Fruit of her womb Jesus.” The mystery of His person not only amazed Mary at the scene of the Annunciation, but also fascinated the unborn John the Baptist in the womb of his Mother Elizabeth and also enwrapped Elizabeth by the power of the Holy Spirit that she was the first to pronounce the title of the Feast of today; “And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43). It is the same mystery that attracted the shepherds in the Gospel (Lk 2:16-21) of today for “The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherds had to say.”
A successful year is a year lived and guided by the mystery of the person of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the God with us! The mystery that charges and empowers us to reach and achieve greater heights than we can ever think of or imagine. The mystery that changes our perspective about life for good! The mystery that leads us to reconciliation, with ourselves, with God and with those around us for Christ is our reconciliation (2 Cor 5:18). To be reconciled is to restore friendly relations with ourselves, with God and with our neighbours. This never comes without some sacrifices, sometimes from the person offended. God our Father gives us a perfect example in this regard. He was the offended One, but He gave up His Son even unto death and afterwards sent us His Holy Spirit for the forgiveness of sins and to keep us firm on the path of reconciliation. The motto is; be reconciled! Be reconciled with yourself! Be reconciled with God! And be reconciled with your neighbour! A reconciled person is a liberated person! A reconciled person is a successful person! A reconciled person is a person who truly lives the mysteries of the person of Christ! A reconciled person is a true child of God!
Through the powerful intercession of the blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all the Saints of God in heaven, may the grace of God accompany us all in this year 2022, especially as we strive to follow the Path of Reconciliation; Amen. Happy Feast and a prosperous New Year;
Fr Cyril Unachukwu CCE