Happy New Year! For many of us, the changing of the calendar this year will be very welcome. All the same, I would be remiss if I did not give thanks for the gifts of 2020. It was a year which will be remembered for a pandemic, tragedy, and division, but the gift was in the response of service and sacrifice by many people that sustained us through a difficult time and, ultimately, set us on a path to recovery.
I think of the dedicated commitment shown by our clergy, parish staffs, and volunteers who worked tirelessly to ensure our churches and our many important ministries such as food pantries and soup kitchens would carry on. I think of the devotion to duty of medical personnel, first responders, storekeepers and supermarket workers, school teachers, cleaning personnel, transport workers and others who have kept our communities operating and safe. These are the people who brought blessing to the year. They met the moment generously by answering the call given to each of us: to share God’s love and mercy with those we encounter to preserve the common good. I think of the sacrifices of parishioners and community members, many in uncertain financial situations, who continued to offer needed assistance to the Church, recognizing the importance of our common mission and the support in hope it offers to so many people in so many ways. The courage, perseverance, and faith we see in the acts of these people are things to carry with us into the new year.
So as we enter into 2021 on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, who better to guide us? We can learn a great deal from Mary, a woman who knew that only in prayer and in conversation with the God who had asked her to be the mother of his child, would she be able to be faithful to what she had been called. We are told in the Gospel that “she kept all these things in her heart.” We would do well to follow her. In her heart was where she would meet God, and seek his will for her as she carried out her mission to be the Mother of God.
As the new year begins, let us resolve to enter it mindful of the good we have received. Like Mary, in humble prayer, let us ask God to guide us in witnessing to the Good News of Jesus in our world seeking the good in others, and striving where we can to help make the lives of others better.
God is with us. That is our hope; that is what we celebrate at Christmas. As the calendar changes, may this truth rest in your hearts bringing you peace and blessing.