The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

                                            the Mother of God
    
                                        
         January 1, 2023


                                                                                                       Fr. Josť Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
                                                                                                                           Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
                                                                                                                               North St. Paul, Minnesota

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Sunday Reading Meditations

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.  Today's Collect prayer proclaims that Mary's fruitful virginity brought us salvation: " O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation."  The second reading reinforces this idea: "When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, (...) so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4-5).

As we begin a new civil year, we meditate on the meaning of Mary's virginal fruitfulness.  We pray that the new year will be fruitful for each of us, our families and our communities.

Our lives become fruitful when we have a virginal attitude, when we see other people and things as coming from God and returning to him, and perceive everything as belonging to Christ: "So let no one boast about human beings, for everything belongs to you, Paul or Apollos or Kephas, or the world or life or death, or the present or the future: all belong to you, and you to Christ, and Christ to God" (1 Cor 3:21-23).

When we recognize other people's origin and destiny, we see them in their true light and treat them differently, in a purer way.  Thus, we are called to live all relationships in Christ.  His presence redeems us and corrects our possessiveness, which emanates from original sin and brokenness.

Today's Gospel says: "Mary kept all these things reflecting on them in her heart" (Lk 2:19).  Mary sought to understand the meaning of what was happening and God's presence in all things.  She knew that God begins all good things and brings them to completion, as today's prayer over the offerings tells us: "O God, who in your kindness begin all good things and bring them to fulfillment."  Like Mary, we become fruitful when we treasure God's Word and works in our hearts.

To be fruitful, we need to be united to Christ, as he says: "Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit because without me you can do nothing" (Jn 15:5).

We become genuinely fruitful when we grow in the awareness of our Baptism and discover our true identities as beloved sons and daughters of God.  Today's second reading says: "As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, 'Abba, Father!'  So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God" (Gal 4:6-7).

To have a virginal heart, we need to be purified.  Mary purifies our hearts, as she purified St. Joseph's.  If we love Mary as Joseph did, she will purify our hearts from disordered passions.  God's light frees us from darkness.  As today's first reading and responsorial tell us, we need to let God's face shine upon us.

May we experience Mary's intercession throughout the year.  May the Lord pour out his blessings upon us in abundance.  May the Lord grant us the grace of a fruitful year.  Amen.