Grace to you and Happy New Year!
Grateful for the gift of life and the New Year. My prayer is that this New Year will be more blessed than the previous one. Amen.
If I may ask, what are your plans for this New Year? Any New Year resolutions?
Honestly, I gave up on making New Year resolutions some time ago. They don’t work for me. Those decisions not to eat this or eat that, to achieve this or achieve that, have simply not worked for me.
I have some friends, though, who operate by New Year resolutions. It keeps them focused and works for them. People are different. Beauty of creation. Blessings of Diversity. Thank God the world isn’t a monotone. Follow what works for you.
What works for me is seeing my life as a continuum. I try, by the grace of God, to make adjustments throughout the course of the New Year. It saves me from unnecessary anxiety and frustrations.
Permit me to share one specific spiritual tip that works for me. My apologies if it sounds personal and somewhat too religious. It’s been very helpful to me and I would want to share, hoping you will be blessed by my experience. Feel free to share yours too. My online comment box or the email is open for such sharing and feedback.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we shared our success stories, as well as our failures, so others may learn something which could help them too? There is joy in sharing. Empowerment also! Recall that biblical text which encourages sharing words of our testimony as one of the tools for victory (see Revelation 12:11).
What has been very helpful to me during the New Year is dedicating my entire year to the Lord and I do so through Mary the Mother of God.
“What?” some may ask, “Mary, the Mother of God? How can a human being be called God’s mom? Nonsense!”
Well, I would answer this in a very simple way and then get back to my story. I presume my audience at least believes Jesus is God. If not, it would need a longer explanation that can’t be covered in today’s reflection. Some thoughts re the identify of Jesus will follow tomorrow
In our Christian tradition (and this is accepted by virtually all Christian traditions), Mary is the biological mother of Jesus. This is historical truth. For Christians, Jesus is God, the second Person of the Trinity (three persons in one God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit). So, if Mary is the Mother of Jesus who is God, it follows logically and theologically, and one can confidently say, that Mary is the Mother of Jesus who is God. Hence, Mary is the Mother of God. This is the simplest way to explain this doctrine, which was defined over one thousand five hundred years ago (AD 431) at the Council of Ephesus.
During that Council, the Church Fathers reemphasized the core truth already defined at the Council of Nicaea AD 325 and the First Council of Constantinople in 381AD. Namely, that Jesus is God and not less equal with God, what was called “Christological controversy (controversy related to the identity and the two natures, human and divine, of the Christ). The Fathers also discussed the place of the birth of Jesus and the role of Mary in that birth.
A Catholic prelate, Nestorius, who was the patriarch of Constantinople, claimed that Mary is the Mother of Christ (Christotokos, meaning bearer of Christ). He meant that Mary gave birth to the human nature of the Christ only. By so doing, he and his followers dichotomized the person of the Child Jesus born by Mary, between the human (born by Mary) and the divine (which was not born by Mary).
The Church, led by theologians like Saint Cyril of Alexandria saw the danger in this Nestorian position (called in history as Nestorian heresy). It meant dividing the identity of Christ and that the Incarnation through Mary was simply the birth of the human Christ and not the two natures in one person. The Church rejected this as a heresy and upheld to the Gospel truth that Mary conceived and gave birth to Jesus, fully God and fully man. Hence, the place of Mary as God-bearer (Theotokos, also translated as Mother of God) was defined as a dogma.
Let’s return to how I shape my New Year. I dedicate my New Year to Jesus through Mary. I do this by long hours of prayers the day before, and a few more days after the New Year.
On the New Year, I celebrate the Mass of Mary the Mother of God, during which I connect with the universal Church in asking for the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, the one that interceded for those who had no wine. We know that Jesus answered her request bringing about the first miracle Jesus ever performed, when it wasn’t his time to go public yet (see John 2). I ask Mary to play that role for me as well throughout the course of the year. She does.
It’s brilliant for the Catholic Church to set January 1 as a special feast of Mary. Beginning the year with Jesus Christ born of the Blessed Virgin Mary is having the real deal. Liturgical spirituality (spirituality built on the liturgical life of the Church) is a blessing. It’s rich.
Praying with Mary as she intercedes to her Son on our behalf is a special honor for those who realize what blessings the Mother of the Lord is to believers, the beloved disciples. I tell you, my year is blessed exceedingly by so doing.
Hence, in addition to your New Year resolutions, I would recommend dedicating your New Year to God. Doing so through the intercessions of the greatest Saint, Mary the Mother of our Lord, would be an excellent idea.
We do not know what the year holds. Only God knows. So, dedicating every second, minute, hour, week and month of the year to God and asking God to lead us to the where and the how of the best things for our blessings, salvation and God’s glory is a wonderful practice. God never fails.
Hand the year over to God and God will take care of it.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.