31 December 2022 – New Year’s Eve (Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God)

by Fr Joachim Robert

Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm 66(67):2-3,5,6,8
Galatians 4:4-7
Luke 2:16-21

Theme: A New Beginning

Dear friends,

As we approach the end of the year, I am sure many of you re-examine the whole year and I am not sure how many of you have written your resolutions down. Any show of hands? All very shy to say that you have made a resolution because you are not sure whether you can keep the resolution or not. Well, what I am sure as you take a step back and take a look at your journey of 2022, I am sure there have been moments that you have been grateful for, moments where you see the finger of God at work in your lives.

And there have been situations, I am sure, that challenges, obstacles may have come and put you off-track from what you wanted to do. And perhaps as well many of your resolutions, your dreams, your vision perhaps got derailed because of the circumstances or the events that has taken place in your life.

But as we take a look at 2022, dear friends, it is a time that we re-examine and the image that comes to mind is the image of a door or a gate or a chapter in a book. Because when one chapter closes, when one door closes, another opens up for us to begin anew.

And I am sure our whole journey of life from year to year has been a constant reminder of us to really take a look at ourselves and see how we have grown in our relationship with God. Last week we celebrated the Feast of the Incarnation, God becoming Man. And our whole focus and our attention was on the Child Jesus.

But today, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, is a reminder for us to take a look at Mary and also to take a look at Joseph as well. Because the child that is to be born did not just emerge like that. Mary and Joseph had to go through their own obstacles and challenges of life. Even though it may have seemed bleak, full of challenges, full of obstacles, but they persevered. They put their faith and trust in God and allowed God to be at the centre of everything that they did. And the fruit of that dedication, of that faithfulness is what we see in the Gospel today.

The sacrifices of Mary and Joseph, dear friends, and as we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, the sacrifices of Mary and Joseph was one that very often perhaps we do not see because they are not spoken about. And I am sure that in our journey of allowing Jesus to be reborn in our lives, each and every one of us, like Mary and Joseph, the efforts that we put in in order to grow in our discipleship very often goes unnoticed. Very often it is not given due recognition because even we ourselves are unable to acknowledge that that is a moment raised by God.

God sends people into our lives, events, circumstances, tragedy perhaps. And these are wake-up calls, where we come to realise and to re-orientate ourselves to see where are we in our relationship with Him.

And as we look at Pope Benedict. The death of Pope Benedict came as a surprise to many. Even though in his old age, his dedication, his perseverance in keeping his faith firm in God, whatever circumstances that have come along the way, his focus was totally and utterly dependent and being obedient to the will and the plan of God in his life. And that is why he was able to entrust his whole life in the service of the church.

And you and I, dear friends, to take a relook at ourselves as we are called to take a look at Pope Benedict’s life. I am sure you will see a lot of biographies that speaks about his contributions to the church. In the same way, when you look at that biographies, autobiographies, you are also invited to take a relook at your own life. Where are the areas of life and the chapters of your life that you need to close. What are the chapters in your life that you need to open.

But very often, when we are faced with obstacles and challenges of life, we choose and want that challenges and the difficulties to fade away. But the Lord invites us that even though we are faced with obstacles and challenges of life, not to pray for that problem to go away but to allow God to give us the strength to be persevering and allow God to walk together with us amidst those challenges and difficulties of life.

In the First Reading from the Book of Numbers, we are told Moses said to Aaron when he was faced with challenges in his own life. The first thing that God says to Moses to tell Aaron is to acknowledge the blessings of God in his life. And he says:-

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.

It is not a prayer to get rid of the problems that we are encountering but to give us the strength to be persevering, trusting our life into God’s hands and to acknowledge that He is in charge.

And I am sure, dear friends, in our circumstance of life there have been many, many areas that we are so caught up where things are so gloomy, so dark, that we are unable to find hope, we are unable to acknowledge the presence of God in the journey and the difficult circumstances of life. And as we celebrate Mary, Mother of God, we are called to ponder like Mary.

As it says in the Gospel today,

As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glofying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.

And sometimes, dear friends, others are able to acknowledge the goodness of God in our own lives. But we are blinded, we are unable to see them because we lack that sense of remembrance, that sense of reflection, that sense of pondering to see the finger of God at work.

And as Mary invites us, as we begin this whole new year of 2023, a journey full of uncertain future, a journey that we are not sure what it will entail but we know that like Mary and Joseph who put their faith and trust in God, amidst uncertainties of the world, amidst uncertainties of their lives, they knew that God would be with them. And the blessing of God accompanied them all along the way.

And as we approach 2023, let us take that step forward, trusting and entrusting our life into God’s hand and to acknowledge that amidst those uncertainties, God will journey together with us. God will be leading us by the hand and the grace and the mercy of God accompanies us because as the Second Reading tells us today, Letter of St Paul to the Galatians, it tells us of the privilege that we have been given, to be called Children of God.

And each one of us, dear friends, have the ability to call God our Father, a father who constantly reaches out to us. A God who continues to accompany us amidst whatever struggles and challenges of life. Even our doors are shut, even though the opportunity that we have seems to be gloomy but the Lord continues to entrust his loving care towards us He reaches out to us in love if we allow him to enter into that area of our lives.

So let us pray, dear friends that like Mary who pondered everything in her heart, let this time of grace that has been given to us be a time of reflection, a time of pondering so that we can set our course with the direction that God has set for us.

And let us pray let us pray that this year may be blessed with the invitation to grow in a deeper relationship with him.

Finally the Responsorial Psalm says:

O God be gracious and bless us

And let this journey we take into 2023 be filled with God’s mercy and blessing, even though obstacles and challenges come. We know that God will be there together with us, walking, accompanying us in that journey of life

And I am sure dear friends, each and every one of us have our own crosses to carry, have our own burdens and our own challenges. But be rest assured that God hears them, God listens to them and God lifts your burden.

And we pray that Mary may lead us towards a deeper union of an encounter with Jesus who is the Saviour of the world and allow his blessings to continue to permeate every aspect of our lives.

Click below to listen to the homily and watch the video:-

Click to live-stream Mass on 31 December 2022