Solemnity of Mary,
the Holy Mother of God
January 1, 2013
A Homily - Cycle C - 2012-2013
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - Numbers 6:22-27
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Second Reading - Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel - Luke 2:16-21
Written by Luke to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.
Well, the results are conclusive . . praying to a mother like Mary really DOES help the Redskins! Just as it helps a new priest . . . When a priest is ordained, his hands are smeared with this beautiful holy oil called chrism. It’s one of the three in our vestibule display case. This oil reflects the power of the priest to take bread in his hands, offer words of prayer, and change that bread into Jesus Christ Himself. The bishop smears this oil all over the man’s hands (and Bishop Loverde uses plenty!), and then the new priest goes to a back room to wipe off the sacred oil. He uses a special cloth called a “maniturgium.” Usually, after his first Mass the next day, the baby priest present this maniturgium to his mother, in gratitude for everything that she has done for him throughout his whole life.
Now, normally you don’t give a used handkerchief to your parents! But this is no ordinary handkerchief, and the recipient is definitely no ordinary person . . . this is the priest’s mother, who saw him first when he was basically wrapped up in little more than handkerchiefs as a small baby, who showed him how to use a handkerchief as a small child when he had a cold, and then herself used a handkerchief as she watched him graduate from high school and then college. A mother can look at that white piece of cloth, and immediately every memory of her child’s life comes to her heart. For mothers treasure every memory in their hearts.
And so the mother of a priest, when she dies, is traditionally buried with this maniturgium, this fancy handkerchief, so that when she goes before the Lord of Hosts, she can turn to Him and say, “Lord, I gave you a priest!” For she has been a mother to this priest, in every moment of his life, through all ups and downs, through all important positions and titles, and now that he is called to stand IN THE PERSON of Jesus Christ Himself . . . she is STILL mother to him! Mom will ALWAYS be mom to the young boy that everyone else now calls “Father.”
I know this to be true with my own Mom, who only 18 months ago received my own maniturgium. I know this to be true with Fr. Donahue’s Mom as well. His parents just recently visited for a few days in November, and boy was it fun to listen to “incriminating” stories of Fr. D’s childhood from his Mom (what a conversion he’s had!), but it just goes to show how special it is to be a MOTHER! Every mother here knows that. Every woman blessed with children knows that . . . including the Blessed Mother herself, who also cared for her child, wrapped him up in swaddling clothes, saw him grow up, saw him work wonders, saw Him die for His people, and then wrapped Him in swaddling clothes again for Him tomb. In all things, she was His mother . . . When I put on my clerics, my mother still has the power to scold me for not putting on a hat when it’s cold. Mom is Mom, not only of Luke, but of the priest as well, the entire person! Similarly, Mary was, is, and forever will be, mother of the child who was born in Bethlehem, and so she is Mom to the entire Person, Jesus. Thanks to Mary, we can literally SEE the face of God!
What does that mean for us? It means that, our ability to reach to Lord, our ability to encounter God Himself, comes THROUGH Mary! I mean, if I really want something from Fr. Donahue, I’ve considered the strategy of calling His mother in Michigan . . . maybe it will help . . . but I KNOW it’s guaranteed to work if I turn to the Mother of Jesus, for God ALWAYS listens to His mother.
It also means that, whenever we approach our Lord in the Eucharist, whenever the priest takes the Host in his hands and says, BEHOLD THE LAMB OF GOD, we encounter the Son of God, true, but we also encounter the SON OF MARY. You are truly looking at the Flesh and Blood that was born from a young girl from Nazareth. Our relationship with Him should involve HER as well! Because she is God’s mother, she is now our mother too. For when we receive her Son in Holy Communion, she looks upon you, and me, and what does she see? She sees her Son in us, and so she sees her CHILDREN, and she LOVES her children, and not just in the good times, but in EVERY MOMENT of our lives, even the handkerchief moments which may seem small in the eyes of the world, but are infinitely precious in the heart of Mary.
I pray that we have the wisdom to turn to this motherly heart, she who has promised us so many times that she will bring us closer to her Son, IN EVERY ASPECT OR MOMENT OF OUR LIVES, for with a mother like her, not a moment is wasted! For she knows you. For she loves you. She keeps you in her heart. And she promises us TODAY, she will help us come home, and SEE the face of her Son. Holy Mary, MOTHER OF GOD, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death.