Saturday, December 31, 2016

the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus.

Solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God. January 1st, 2017

Today we celebrate that Holy day given to us by the Second Vatican Council- the solemnity of Mary, “Mother of God.” It is her most privilege title and the very best way to address her. Mary as “Mother of God,” is also one of her oldest titles. The Church at the Council of Ephesus first officially proclaimed it in 431. At that council, the Church declared her as “Theotokos,” which is Greek for the “God-bearer,” another way of saying the “Mother of God.” But this official declaration wasn’t the beginning of the belief of this truth of our faith, for even while Jesus was alive, to those who the Father revealed Jesus as God in the flesh, knew that she who gave birth to Jesus, was then truly the Mother of God.

With this in mind, we discover that the name- “Mother of God,” is more than just a declaration about Mary; it is really a declaration that declares and protects the truth about Who is Jesus Christ. He is truly divine while at the same time truly human. The Church has always protected the truth about Mary, because it protects and leads us to the truth about Jesus.

Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ who was at the same time truly God and truly Man. The one who gives birth is mother to the one birthed; and so because Mary gave birth to Jesus who was and is God become man, she is then truly “Mother of God.” Our mother who gave birth to us did not create us; and so, by declaring Mary as Mother of God we don’t mean she was the creator of Jesus (for Jesus wasn’t created-He is the Eternal God), but that she gave birth to Him in time.

Mary was not a god who gave birth to a god. Mary is not a god or a goddess herself. She is a limited created human being who was given the high honor of supplying a human nature, that is, a body, blood and soul along with a human intellect and will, to the second Person of the Most Holy Trinity-the Eternal Word. Through her Jesus became true man, all the while remaining true God.

It is important to make a distinction here. Mary is not the mother of the human person of Jesus Christ, but Mary is the mother of the Divine Person Jesus Christ. Jesus is not human person but a divine person with both a human nature and a divine nature. Mary then did not give birth to just the human nature of Christ and not to the Divine nature, but she gave birth to the whole Person of Jesus Christ (you cannot separate the natures of Christ, because both make up the one divine person of Jesus Christ). Mary is therefore truly the Mother of God. This is the glorious truth we celebrate today, the first day of the year.

When one denies the truth about the Mary as Mother of God, one inevitably denies the truth about who Jesus Christ truly is. If the truth about the Mother of God, is not upheld we misunderstand the very nature of Christ and we do not know Him as He is. We then can end up saying and believing untrue things about Him, like: “He didn’t know He was divine;” or, “that there were two persons in Jesus, one Human and one divine;” or, “that Jesus was a human person”…These errors and those like them lead to a mistaken belief that Jesus was really just a good and nice guy, just a nice do-gooder, just a prophet, just a creature like us.

Yes, the truth about Mary, leads us to the full truth about Jesus. He is more than just prophet, He IS God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God, without beginning or end. He, though equal to the Father, was sent by the Father, to come down to earth as one of us, as a true man, though without sin, all the while remaining what He was before-True God; and as the Almighty and Living God, He can make demands on our life. And we for our part have duty in justice as well as in love, to believe, adore, hope and trust Him; and so in love, obey Him and follow Him in and through His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church which He founded on the Apostles.

So this is why we publicly praise Mary as the Mother of God, and why at this time so closely after the important festival of Christmas and on the very first day of the New Year. To celebrate at Christmas is perfectly natural. When we visit a newborn babe, we of course inquire about the baby’s health, weight and the like. Then we always want to know about the health of the mother. We have looked for a week at the baby in the crib. It is now perfectly reasonable to look at the Mother, the Mother of the infant Jesus…for if we know about her, if we know her and draw closer to her we will know better her son; and to know someone is too love them and to love them is to draw closer to them.

And to celebrate on the first day of the eye is practical. On this first day of 2017 we wish one another a Happy New Year. This means we hope and pray that our friends and loved ones will have a blessed and holy year, that they will try to know Christ more clearly, love Him more warmly, and serve Him more faithfully, just as His Mother did. To do this nothing will help us more than the inspiration and help of that same Mother. Jesus loved and honored her. He wants us to love and honor her also. The disciples are to do what the master does; we honor Mary because Jesus honored her first.

I remember a very touching story about motherhood that I heard a few years ago that happened during a devastating earthquake in Iran that claimed tens of thousands of lives. Four days after the devastating earthquake the rescue crews had lost hope of finding any more survivors. Then a miracle happened, they found a young girl of 12 still alive. She was unconscious and had a broken leg, nevertheless she was found alive. She was found alive because she was wrapped in the arms of her mother who was killed by falling debris. The mother’s protective embrace actually saved the Child.

The Mother of God too, wraps in her arms those children who turn to her for protection. She not only protects them from physical harm but even more importantly she protects her children from spiritual arm. She is truly the Mother of God and the mother of the children of God. (If Jesus is the head of the Church and we are His body, Mary gave birth both to the head as well as to the body of Christ, and so she is truly our Mother). And she is a good mother who safely leads us to her divine Son, the divine Son she gave to the world in His birth and the divine Son she allowed to die on the Cross-for our salvation (this is the meaning of the Brown Scapular, to wear it in order to be embraced in the protection of the mantle of our Heavenly Mother, and to ask her to help us at the Holy Mass in order to offer ourselves in love, completely to Him Who is Love).

This death of Christ is renewed today on this altar and every day at every Christ-Mass. If we want the world to keep Christ in Christmas, we Catholics need to first keep the Mass in Christ-Mass Let us ask the Mother of God to intercede for us, and obtain for the grace to make the Holy Mass more important in 2017; in fact, to make it the absolute center of our life and of our family life. As individuals and families, let us, especially by praying the rosary, ask our dear Blessed Mother to help us draw closer to the Holy Eucharist Who is Immanuel-God truly with us still. She will help us to keep our eyes always on Jesus, so that we will have a holy and Blessed New Year. Through this Holy Mass and through the maternal intercession of the Mother of God may God grant to you and your loved ones the grace and helps you need to make this a truly joyful year by adhering your lives more closely to our Blessed Savior. I wish you all a Blessed New Year!!! Holy Mary, Mother of God, Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Over the last couple of weeks of Advent, we have been preparing for the coming of the Christ Child at Christmas. We have been told to stay a wake, not to fall asleep. In this we have discovered that Advent is the liturgical time, which reminds us that all of our life is an Advent, a time of joyful preparation for the coming of Jesus at the end of the world or the end of our life which ever comes first. But we have also been reminded that Jesus has already come, and even more than that He comes to us now at this Holy Mass and at every Holy Mass with and in His same body and blood that he was born with at Bethlehem. This great truth is not only the cause of our Joy, it is the very source of our hope…the source of all hope…We have hope because God is truly with us, in the flesh.

A few years ago I came across a very interesting true story about hope. A priest was once given the assignment of serving a woman’s prison where many of the inmates were in for life. He was told that these particular women were very tough, and so it would be hard to get much of a response from them. In fact, at his first meeting with them only two women showed up. So he knew he had to do something in order to get more of the inmates to come and hear the truth about God and the truth about themselves.

He devised a plan to invoke the curiosity of the inmates. So he said to the two women, I am going to ask you the following question, if you can’t give me the correct answer I’ll stop talking, leave and come back next week to see if you have the answer. He asked them, “What is the worst sin? One of them answered, “Murder.” No, the priest said and he left. The next week there were about twenty women present. They all gave various answers to the question, such as rape and even killing a baby. Again, the priest said, “No.” and left.

The following week the room was completely packed. Still none of them had the answer. This time however, the priest revealed to them the correct answer. The worst sin He said was the sin of despair, loss of hope. He went on to tell them that they had hope even if in their desperate situation; they had hope because they were daughters of God and because they had God as their Father. Without belief, without faith in this, they would be lost in despair. He then told them of the unconditional love of the Father and how we don’t have to earn His love; we just have to open our hearts to it and trust in it, place our hope in His goodness, and then with a contrite heart, ask for and receive His forgiveness and mercy.

Our only hope is God!!! This was the message of the priest to the woman inmates. We have so many troubles in this life, our world is in great, grevious trouble, and we see others in so much trouble. To have hope, we have to return to faith in God, not only believing that He exists, but returning to living our lives in complete fidelity to Him, to His Church, to His truth and obedience to His commands and teachings out of love for Him; in others words, living our lives in conformity to His Holy Will. Hope is impossible without this true faith.

This points us to an important fact. Our Catholic faith is not just about information we know; Christianity doesn’t just tell us facts, doctrines and truths. Our faith tells us that each one of us is personally willed by God and so loved by God. In fact, each one of us is so loved by God that he came to earth for us, become a man for us, was born for us, lived and even suffered and died for us; and finally, He truly rose from the dead for us. He did all of this for us so that He would move our hearts to trust and hope in Him, love Him so that we might enter into an eternity of perfect happiness with Him, in union with Him and His Father forever. Our faith gives us hope by showing our true goal, which is God Himself, thus, giving us a reason to live no matter the situation; and so those with hope have the abundance of life.

When we truly believe that God only allows what is best to happen those who love Him we have hope and this Hope does something to us, it changes us, redeems us, saves us. Hope like faith however, is not just something we have it is something we live. Our hope in God must be operative; it must be performative. In other words, What keeps us from hope is not the situations of our lives but rather how we respond to them. It’s not our defects or other people and their defects but it’s the way we respond to them that can keep us from hope. We can either rebel against God because of our circumstances and so become angry and despair, or resign to our fate with a woe is me attitude; Or instead we can accept our situation with the attitude that Our Father God knows best—that I am loved-I can be saved, that I can become united with God intimately- that God loves me definitively and so I hope in Him even when it seems hopeless. I will still trust in Him in every situation because I know through faith that He will only allow what is best for me so that I may reach my goal of eternal happiness with Him already here on earth.

We need to ask our Lord for the capacity to accept big things, little things, to accept others they way they are, to accept ourselves the way we are. Yes we need to keep struggling to become better, and call others to become better with the help of God’s grace, but we need to accept our weakness, and other’s weakness, in order that we can all rely on God more than on ourselves, to become better by accepting all circumstances by crying out, Jesus I adore you, I believe in You, Jesus I trust in You and I love you; I trust in Your love for me and I abandoned my self totally to you! Now, O My God, help me to adore, believe, trust in You and love You more.

The season of advent and Christmas can sometimes be the worst. It is so busy and our hearts and minds are so preoccupied. It is also the season of rampant depression for so many reasons, sadness, the loss of a loved one, life in a mess, unemployment, an illness, the state of affairs in our world and in our Church, Christmas away from those we love. All of this really shows us that we can’t place our hope and trust in ourselves, others, circumstances or things to bring us happiness. If we rely on these, we lose hope and then we get angry at God-why does He allow this to happen to me or to my loved ones.

We also can’t place our trust and hope in the world. Man continually tries to create a system to trust apart from God and we end up with the gulag of Communism and the Auschwitz of Nazism. We can’t put our trust in politics or political systems; we can’t put our trust in Government or science to save us.

In this season we have our family and friends and their love. This is good it helps to show us and lead us to the love of God. Yet, even those who are closest to us can and will let us down. Just like we can’t trust the world, so too, we can’t trust our love ones totally, because they are imperfect and weak just like us. So too, there is no perfect priest, no perfect bishop or pope; there is nobody who is perfect save One, The only One, Jesus Christ, our only Savior and our Lord and our God; HE ALONE IS OUR ONLY HOPE.

In these last couple of days before we celebrate Christmas we must turn ever more to the source of our true hope and so the source of our true joy, Jesus Christ truly present in the Holy Eucharist, the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Holy Mass and our active, full, conscious and fruitful participation in it, is then cause of our hope. In our actual participation in it, the Mass becomes the cause of our hope because it makes truly present Jesus and His sacrifice of love that saved us, is saving us and will save us, if we place our hope in its Power to save us.

At the Holy Mass, in the Holy Eucharist, Jesus’ birth two thousand years ago becomes present to us, and so Jesus is born on the altar before us, lives before us, suffers before us, dies before us, and resurrects before us, actually, truly and really. Jesus becomes fully present before us in the Holy Eucharist as true God and true Man. At the Mass as well His second coming becomes present; at the Mass we are at once at the beginning of the world and at the end of the world. At the Mass our goal, which is heaven becomes present on earth as well. And at the Mass, our hope can be increase, when we receive, worthily, Jesus the source of our hope; if we but open to the doors to our hearts, minds and soul so that He can enter and mount His throne, ruling over our lives and changing us into His image and likeness. Then we ourselves can become living tabernacles of Christ and hope for the world, for we can take Jesus newly born in us, out into our daily lives and share with others the joy and the hope that is within us.

In our Gospel today, Joseph gives us the secret of Christmas. He lets Mary into his home. And by doing so He lets the Divine Child into her home as well. So to with us, if we want to let Jesus into our homes, into our hearts, then we must let more fully Mary into our homes and into our hearts. And she brings with her divine son Jesus. Mary, Mother of God, by your faithful yes to God’s Will you brought forth hope into the world-Jesus your Son; help us to open the door to our homes, to our hearts and welcome you in, and so welcome Him in. Amen.