In the next several hours we will say “good-bye” to the year 2020 AD, which has been a tremendous challenge to so many (countries, communities, our own community, families and individuals). And we will welcome the new year of 2021, praying that, as the reading from the Book of Numbers proclaims: “The Lord bless us and keep us; the Lord make His face shine upon us and be gracious to us; the Lord turn His face toward us and give us peace.” And also, as we welcome a new year, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
“In today’s gospel there is excitement as the shepherds hurry into Bethlehem to pour out what they have heard and seen to anyone who would listen to them. But at the center of this movement and ferment is Mary, the still point around which it all revolves. She says nothing, but in her heart she treasures and ponders all that is happening. The word that Luke uses here for “reflecting on” is symballo, a word in the Greek that literally means to “throw together.” With Joseph at her side and her child lying in a manger wrapped in the swaddling cloths that bind both king and commoner (cf. Wis 7:4), Mary, the contemplative woman, silently holds and “throws together” in her heart the events of divine conception and human birth, heavenly hosts and hillside shepherds. Years of seeking to understand lie ahead of her as the first and most faithful of the disciples of Jesus. In her pondering and remembering, Mary is a model for our reading of the Word of God (our lectio divina), and the conversation between that Word and events of our own lives.
As we gaze on this peaceful woman, we can appreciate how appropriate it is that January 1 has been chosen by the church as the day on which we pray for world peace. Like her, we are called to gaze on the child who is the Prince of Peace. It is his reign, not the Pax Romana, not the Pax Americana, nor any other political maneuvering, that will make peace… a reality in our hearts and in our world. Then humanity will be a people of praise, and all the nations will “be glad and exult.” The responsibility for peace is now in our hands.
Mary’s role as Jesus’s mother renders her a unique witness to the life of the Messiah. She knows of him from Gabriel’s words before he is conceived in her womb, she participates in his birth, and she cares for him as an infant, child, and adolescent. Throughout these intense years of mothering the son of God, she must have heard and seen many things. In Mary we find a model of discipleship and also a model of glorifying and praising God with the entirety of her body, mind, soul, and spirit. In reflecting on all she has heard and seen within her heart, she shows us a way of living deeper each day into the mystery of the incarnation.” (Living Liturgy 2021)
As we find ourselves in the second lockdown of this year and without the possibility of gathering together in our church to celebrate the Christmas Season, please know that you are invited to join in for daily and Sunday Masses on our YouTube channel whenever possible. The schedule for those celebrations is in our bulletin on the parish website. Since this Friday we observe the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, which is a holy day of obligation in normal circumstances, we will have 2 Masses on this occasion: one on Thursday evening at 5pm and one on Friday at 10am. Both will be livestreamed.
Please know that your parish needs your assistance during this time, as this is now the second occasion that we missed a substantial collection (Easter being the first and Christmas the second). It’s not too late to donate to the parish before the end of the year. Donation envelopes can be dropped off through the mail slot at the parish office, they can still be mailed to us, or you can make a donation on our website under the “Donate” tab. Please know that when you donate on the website, the email that you subsequently receive contains the PDF file which should be used for your tax purposes. Thank you to all who are supporting our parish at this time and have been throughout the year.
I would like to mention that in the past a number of our parishioners expressed an interest in Preauthorised Giving. Sometime in the next couple of days, our bookkeeper Jean Goobie will personally contact those individuals who previously filled out and submitted a Preauthorised Giving form to ask if they are ready to begin giving to the parish in this manner. I would invite everyone to think about this option, as it will gradually eliminate the need for donation envelopes, allowing us to go “green” in the near future and avoiding the expense of paying for the envelopes every year. I have posted the form on our website under the “Donate” tab for your consideration.
Also, please note that due to the provincial lockdown, the parish office is closed until January 23 or until further notice. At this time all emails and phone calls are monitored by me and sometimes remotely by our parish staff.
And finally, you are invited to read an article by Fr. Claude, which he wrote for a newspaper in Sri Lanka, on the question of: Was Jesus a present? The article is posted on our website under the “News” tab.
Thank you for your time, everyone. See you in the new year of 2021!
Holy Mother of God – pray for us!