Holy Mother Church solemnly utters her New Year greetings to all her faithful children all over the world and exhorts them to live and work in their everyday life during this new year as the blessed peacemakers of the kingdom of God: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all!”
The Son our Lord Jesus Christ reigns over the people of His new covenant and kingdom as the ‘Prince of peace.’ Through His high priestly work as the promised priest according to the order of Melchisedek He leads all the people who belong to Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit to progress in their covenantal obedience to His Eternal Father’s justice through His word and sacraments and inherit the abiding and eschatalogical peace of His promised salvation. In this manner the body of this people who are dynamically united to the Eternal Son our Lord Jesus Christ in the unity of His Holy Spirit exist in the midst of an erring and war torn human world as God’s ‘sacrament of salvation’ and the hope of man’s true peace and salvation. The Eternal Father’s covenantal justice teaches us that only by accepting His sovereign rights over us as our Creator and Lord and only by relating to Him and to one another according to His commandments and promises can we inherit and enjoy all the blessings of His peace. How can human beings, and in particular we in the Church, inherit and enjoy His abiding and eschatological peace if they covet one and another’s goods under whatever false title, covet one another’s wives and husbands or go about fornicating or enjoy the gossip of apparently innocuous false witness against their neighbours or ignore His call to observe His Sabbath day in all earnestness and holiness and instead make it their day of foolish mirth and mundane pleasures? Can they? So the Prince of Peace reigning over the people united to Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit utters His redeeming war cry to all the people of our sinful world at the beginning of this New year: ‘Unless you repent and do penance you will all perish. Repent and believe in My good news of salvation.” Amen.God’s blessing and a Happy New Year to one and all of you.
SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD NO ONE KNEW JESUS LIKE MARY
No one falls in love with a nature. We fall in love with a person. A woman loves a man, not mankind. And a mother pinches the pudgy little cheeks of a newborn baby, not the cheeks of a newborn nature. Saint Mary gave birth to a little person, a baby, unlike any other. In that little person, a human nature united with a divine nature at the moment of conception. So Mary was the mother of the person Jesus, and the person Jesus had two natures, one fully human and the other fully divine. Saint Mary was, then, the mother of Jesus’ human nature and of His divine nature. She was both the mother of a man and the mother of God. Two false extremes must be identified and rejected here. Jesus was not really and truly only a God who just faked being a man. Nor was He really a man who just pretended to be a God. Jesus the man did not wear His divinity like a cloak that He could remove from His shoulders when He walked in the door. And the Son of God did not wear a fleshy human mask to conceal the radiance of His real divine face. Jesus was fully God and fully man in a mystery of faith we call the hypostatic union. And because a woman is a mother to a person, not a nature, Mary is the mother of God. This has been the constant doctrine of the Catholic Church since the Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D.
Saint Mary has many titles under which we honor her. Today’s Solemnity commemorates the utterly unique, and unrepeatable, bond she shared with Jesus, a bond no other saint can claim. Jesus and Mary probably even looked very much alike, as hers was the only human DNA in His body. What a beautiful thing that our God did not float down from heaven on a golden pillow. How good that He was not forged from a fiery anvil. How just that He did not ride to earth on a thunderbolt. Jesus could not redeem what He did not assume. So it was fitting that He was born like all of us—from a mom. We honor Mary today for her vocation as mother. If she had disappeared from the pages of the Gospels after giving birth to Jesus she still would have fulfilled her role in salvation history. She was obedient. She was generous. She allowed God to use her, body and soul, to write the first chapter of man’s true story, the story of the Church. Like all true stories, the person comes first. A life is lived. The book comes later.
God’s Mother gives us our mother, Holy Mother Church, who washes our souls in the saving waters of baptism and thus adopts us into God’s family. The Motherhood of Mary gives the world Jesus. Jesus gives us the Church. The Church then brings us into God’s family where Mary is our mother, Jesus our brother, and God our Father. This is the family of the Church. What pride to be members of so noble a family!
“Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos),” (CCC 495).
“Mary is truly “Mother of God” since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself,” (CCC 509).
“Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church’s Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary. Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the “Seat of Wisdom.” In her, the “wonders of God” that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be manifested,” (CCC 721).Source: Catholic Daily Reflections, My Catholic Life!
THE EPIPHANY OF THE LORD - SOLEMNITY
On entering the house they saw the child with Mary his mother. They prostrated themselves and did him homage. Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Matthew 2:11
“Epiphany” means manifestation. And the “Epiphany of the Lord” is Jesus’ manifestation not only to these three Magi from the East, but it’s also a symbolic but real manifestation of the Christ to the whole world. These Magi, traveling from a foreign and non-Jewish nation, reveal that Jesus came for all people and all are called to adore Him.
These Magi were “wise men” who studied the stars and were aware of the Jewish belief that a Messiah was coming. They would have been versed in much of the wisdom of the day and would have been intrigued by the Jewish belief in the Messiah.
God used what they were familiar with to call them to adore the Christ. He used a star. They understood the stars and when they saw this new and unique star over Bethlehem they realized that something special was happening. So the first lesson we take from this for our own lives is that God will use what is familiar to us to call us to Himself. Look for the “star” that God is using to call you. It’s closer than you may think.
A second thing to note is that the Magi fell prostrate before the Christ Child. They laid their lives down before Him in complete surrender and adoration. They set a perfect example for us. If these astrologers from a foreign land could come and adore Christ in such a profound way, we must do the same. Perhaps you could try literally lying down prostrate in prayer this day, in imitation of the Magi, oratleastdosoinyourheartthroughprayer. AdoreHimwithacompletesurrender of your life.
Lastly, the Magi bring gold, frankincense, and myrrh. These three gifts, presented to our Lord, show that they acknowledged this Child as the Divine King who would die to save us from sin. Gold is for a King, frankincense is a burnt offering to God, and myrrh is used for one who would die. Thus, their adoration is grounded in the truths of who this Child is. If we are to adore Christ properly, we must also honor Him in this threefold way.
Reflect, today, upon these Magi and see them as a symbol of what you are called to do. You are called from the foreign place of this world to seek out the Messiah. What is God using to call you to Himself? When you discover Him, do not hesitate to acknowledge the full truth of who He is, lying prostrate before Him in complete and humble submission.Lord, I love You and adore You. I lay my life before You and surrender all. You are my Divine King and Savior. My life is Yours. (Pray three times and then prostrate yourself before the Lord) Jesus, I trust in You. Source: Catholic Daily Reflections, My Catholic Life!
THE STORY OF ST. PAUL
St. Francis Xavier was a Navarrese-Basque Roman Catholic missionary born in the Kingdom of Navarre on April 7, 1506. His father was a privy counselor and finance minister to King John III of Navarre. He was the youngest in his family and resided in a castle which still partially stands today and is in the possession of the Jesuit order.
As the young Francis grew, he was surrounded by war. Navarre was the tar- get of a campaign by King Ferdinand of Aragon and Castile, and the kingdom was eventually conquered.
When the war stopped and Francis came of age, he was sent to study at the University of Paris. While there he roomed with his friend, Peter Favre. The pair met and were heavily influenced by Ignatius of Loyola, who encouraged Francis to become a priest.
In 1530, Francis Xavier earned his master's degree, and went on to teach philosophy at the University of Paris.
On August 15, 1534, Francis Xavier along with Peter Favre, and several other friends, made vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The men planned to travel to the Holy Land to convert non-believers. Francis Xavier started his study of theology that same year and was ordained on June 24, 1537.
Pope Paul III approved the formation of their order in 1540, which became The Society of Jesus. The order is more popularly became known as the Jesuits. While Francis Xavier was becoming a priest, Portugal was colonizing India.
The Portuguese settlers in India and elsewhere were losing their faith and Chris- tian values. To restore these values, the King of Portugal asked the Pope to send missionaries to the region.
Pope Paul III asked the new order to take the mission, particularly since they could not undertake their preferred mission to the Holy Land due to warfare there. Ignatius ultimately decided to send Francis.
Francis Xavier left for India in 1541, on his thirty-fifth birthday. As he de- parted he was informed that the pope appointed him to be the Papal Nuncio in the East. A Papal Nuncio is a diplomat who takes up permanent residence in an- other country to formally represent the Church there. He arrived in the region and colony of Goa, India on May 6, 1542.
Although Goa had churches and even a bishop in the Portuguese colony, there were few people to preach and minister to the Portuguese, especially outside the walls of the city.
A major problem Francis quickly recognized was the nature of the people and their intentions. Many sailors and settlers were former prisoners who had been recruited from Portuguese jails or were fleeing mistakes they made back home. None of them came to spread or live virtuous lives. Instead they came to escape Portugal, find adventure, or to make fortunes. Still, they settled and made families.
Xavier ministered first to the sick and the children. Then he learned about the native people of the Pearl Fishery Coast, which had been baptized a decade earlier, but were never taught their faith. Xavier began ministering to them. He spent three years among them, but was often embarrassed by the conduct of his Portuguese countrymen who were already Catholic, but frequently misbehaved....(Catholic online)