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God’s and ours

Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ,

Happy new year of the Lord 2022!

The new year begins under the shadow of a pandemic that forces us to be careful, especially these days when the number of cases throughout the world has increased dramatically.

In the face of so much uncertainty around us, the anxiety caused by the passage of time and other difficulties, we, Christians, remain serene in the joy of knowing that God is with us. He loves us so much that He assumes our human nature, frail, fragile, existentially indigent, precisely to save us, to enrich us with His grace and bring us to the fullness of life in communion with Him.

Not only He becomes one of us. He destroys the power of sin and death. He pours his life on us through the sacraments. He offers Himself as food for the journey in the Eucharist. He offers us the companionship of his own mother as model, guide, protection, and consolation in our difficulties.

The love of God made manifest in all its radicality in the person of Jesus Christ, Eternal Word of God made flesh, ordinarily comes to us through the sacraments. His tender love for us can be readily experienced through the Blessed Virgin Mary, properly called Mother of God.

The Church celebrates her with that title on the first day of the year, at the end of the octave of Christmas. It was pope St. Paul VI who introduced this celebration in the liturgical calendar. Before him, the circumcision of the Lord was celebrated on January 1.

We are used to address the Blessed Virgin Mary with the title Mother of God. It is very familiar to us, for we repeat it whenever we pray the Hail Mary. However, it is something remarkable. God has a mother. The One who has no beginning nor end, who exists before time, has a mother because He became flesh and dwelt among us. In his person there are two natures, without confusion yet without division. That is why when Mary conceives Jesus Christ, true God and true man, she properly becomes Mother of God.

The Mother of God is also our mother. God Himself wanted it to be that way at the supreme moment when He was redeeming the world. St. John has recorded it for us.

As we face difficulties and tribulation in our lives, especially those that are proper to this moment in history, she addresses us with the same words of consolation, encouragement and hope she told St. Juan Diego in Mexico: “Am I not here? I am your mother.”

As a popular Marian hymn in Spanish goes: “You are never alone as you journey through life. St. Mary goes along the road with you…” Indeed, we are not alone. We, Christians, always carry the Church with us, especially the one who is the model of the Church. She is the one who embodies everything we, Christians, aspire to be individually and collectively. It is the woman completely filled with the Holy Spirit, overflowing with grace, the one whom God chose to enter time and space to bring to fulfillment his creative work.

We turn to her today, as we do every day, but also in a special way, moved by Marian piety, contemplating in her the masterpiece of God, the Mother of God. We ask her to pray for us, for our family, indeed for the whole world. We ask her to obtain for us from her Son the grace we need at this particular moment, these challenging and painful times marked by grace and sin like all of history, in the shadows of an ongoing pandemic, festering conflicts, yet illumined by the presence of Christ, who is alive, dispensing his grace to the world through the Church, so that we too may contribute to the progress of the Kingdom of God in history.

Pope St. Paul VI told us: the singular dignity of Mary, “Mother of the Son of God, and therefore beloved daughter of the Father and Temple of the Holy Spirit-Mary, who, because of this extraordinary grace, is far greater than any other creature on earth or in heaven.” This devotion takes into account the part she played at decisive moments in the history of the salvation which her Son accomplished, and her holiness, already full at her Immaculate Conception yet increasing all the time as she obeyed the will of the Father and accepted the path of suffering, growing constantly in faith, hope and charity. Devotion to Mary recalls too her mission and the special position she holds within the People of God, of which she is the preeminent member, a shining example and the loving Mother; it recalls her unceasing and efficacious intercession which, although she is assumed into heaven, draws her close to those who ask her help, including those who do not realize that they are her children. It recalls Mary’s glory which ennobles the whole of mankind, as the outstanding phrase of Dante recalls: “You have so ennobled human nature that its very Creator did not disdain to share in it.” Mary, in fact, is one of our race, a true daughter of Eve-though free of that mother’s sin-and truly our sister, who as a poor and humble woman fully shared our lot…

Christ is the only way to the Father, and the ultimate example to whom the disciple must conform his own conduct, to the extent of sharing Christ’s sentiments, living His life and possessing His Spirit…

The Blessed Virgin’s role as Mother leads the People of God to turn with filial confidence to her who is ever ready to listen with a mother’s affection and efficacious assistance. Thus, the People of God have learned to call on her as the Consoler of the afflicted, the health of the sick, and the Refuge of sinners, that they may find comfort in tribulation, relief in sickness and liberating strength in guilt. For she, who is free from sin, leads her children to combat sin with energy and resoluteness. This liberation from sin and evil -it must be repeated-is the necessary premise for any renewal of Christian living.”

Indeed, that is the path to true peace which is not just the silencing of weapons and the absence of war but tranquility within order. To reach that goal we need the help of grace and no one better than the full of grace to intercede for us, to encourage us in our journey, to help us become “artisans of peace”, who like the star that guided the Magi, illuminates the journey of our brothers and sisters with our testimony of faith in the son of God and son of Mary who loved us and handed Himself over for us so that we may have life in abundance, the One who is our peace.

Happy new year of the Lord 2022!

Fr. Roberto M. Cid