Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Readings: Nm 6:22-27; Ps 67:2-3,5,6,8; Gal 4:4-7; Lk 2:16-21


Tonight/ today we celebrate it as a day of blessings along with New Year 2019.

A prayer for another person or a blessing on someone is perhaps the best gift one can give another person. Today’s first

reading from the Book of Numbers contains the words of blessings that Moses invoked on the Israelites. “The Lord bless you

and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.” This blessing the Israelites invoked upon each other. We should constantly invoke God’s blessings on ourselves and on all those whom we come in contact with.

And in contrast with the blessing from the book of Numbers, this was a blessing that I received from one of my friends. In jest of course.

New Year Blessings

May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your urologist, your psychiatrist, your plumber and the Income tax department.

May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your interest and all your loans not rise.

May you remember to say “I love you” at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parent, your siblings; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.

May New Year’s Eve find you seated around the table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends. May you find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night. May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them. May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues. And may we

live in a world at peace and with the awareness of God’s love in every sunset, every flower’s unfolding petals, every baby’s smile, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart.

At the same time we should always be a person who appreciates our Blessings

Let us look at 2019 as a year of Blessings and at the same time check in on our life how we used God’s blessings in 2018.

Two old friends bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?” The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand rupees.” “That’s a lot of money.” “But you see, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand rupees, free and clear.” “Sounds like you’ve been blessed….” “You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million.” Now he was really confused. “Then, why do you look so glum?” “This week… nothing! Nobody died, and nobody left me anything.” Don’t take your blessings for granted.

It’s the same way with the blessings God gives us every day. We sometimes fail to be grateful and when one of them is removed we get upset too.

However during this season we have a special blessings given to us:

The greatest of all blessings and gift was JESUS.

JESUS was a gift and blessing to: the gospel gives us example of two people who received this blessing; the Shepherds and Mary

* Shepherds: in the gospel we hear this;

o They RAN

o They SAW

o They BELIEVED and

o They SHARED with others this joy and blessings

* Whereas MARY this gift and blessings

o She KEPT all these in her HEART

o She PONDERED on them

o Gave Her Son to others through her CONTEMPLATION AND REFLECTION.

o She now becomes a Blessing to each of us, who shared it with us.

This gift of Jesus naturally becomes a Blessing to all.

We need to use the blessings God gives us to share with others

SHEPHERDS: In today’s gospel we are reminded that though Jesus came for all mankind, the good news of his coming was given first to simple shepherds as they watched over their flock by night. The shepherds did not merely listen to the good news but they acted on it. “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” They also shared the good tidings, their good fortune with others. ‘All who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. Like the shepherds many of us are favoured and blessed by God yet we can sometimes hoard our blessings instead of sharing them. All God’s blessing are freely given and all God’s blessings are not only for ourselves but for the well being of others as well.

MARY: One way of realizing the blessings of God is pondering all things in our hearts. ‘But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.’ We lose out on so many wonderful things that God is doing in us and for us because we have no time to stop and reflect, no time to ponder and pray.’ To live this New Year well we have to count our blessings, we have to find time to acknowledge the giver of all blessings.

The gospel today presents Mary to us as a model of that new life in Christ that all of us wish for ourselves in the New Year. There we see that Mary was prepared to do something to realize this goal. What did she do? We read that the shepherds, when they went to adore the Child Jesus in the manger, told all that the angels had said to them. “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Again after the boy Jesus was found in the Temple, we are told that “His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51). Mary was a woman who valued the word of God, who treasured it and made time to meditate and ponder it. It is true that the holiness of Mary is attributed to the grace of God, but this should not make us forget that she needed to make an effort in order to cooperate with the grace of God. She pondered the word of God in order to discern what God was saying to her at every stage in her life as the handmaid of God. [MARY
listened, pondered and meditate. We can learn from her]

These two examples above of Mary pondering the word of God, namely, after the visit of the shepherds and after the finding in the temple, show that Mary found the word of God both in DIVINE REVELATION (the angels’ words to the shepherds) and in her OWN EXPERIENCES (her encounter with her son in the temple). Similarly God speaks to us today through divine revelation (e.g. the Bible, the teaching and preaching of the Church) as well as through our personal experiences, if only we made time to reflect on them as Mary did.

Let us today resolve to listen more to the voice of God, to treasure God’s word and ponder it in our hearts. Then shall we be able to realize our New Year resolution of a new life in union with God.

New Year Resolution:

Let us in all we do and experience:

* Listen
* Ponder
* Meditate
* Share

Thus put all this into action like Mary and the Shepherd and BE A BLESSING TO OTHERS.

Mary is the one who
Listened to the voice of God,
Accepted it in her life,
Obeyed what God wanted of her and
Did the will of God in her life.

God Be with each one of you as we begin 2019
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious you.
The Lord give you his peace.

Fr. Franco Pereira, S.D.B.

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