506-738-2320 / 506-653-6850

holyspiritparish@nb.aibn.com

Where we WELCOME everyone, WORSHIP together and WITNESS to Jesus Christ.

Homily for Mary, the Holy Mother of God

by | Jan 1, 2021

  • isolated from the rest of society…
  • viewed as suspicious…
  • practise social distancing…
  • seen as a potential danger…
  • faces covered for protection…

Does any of this sound familiar? It should, because this has been the environment for this past year, 2020. All we have to do is to go to a restaurant, bank or grocery store, to name but a few, to know that this is the ‘new norm’. Casual conversation gone, social distancing, hand sanitizers and answering questions from ‘where we’ve been’ to if we have ‘been in contact with anyone who has been sick,’ and so on have become the ‘new norm’ of protecting ourselves and others.

But are these ‘new norms’ that new? All we have to do is to is to go back in time to the Gospel reading that we just heard… let us enter the scene that was just proclaimed… What is going on? Whose involved here? The majority of the story is focused on the shepherds. These were people who were:

  • isolated from the rest of society…
  • viewed as suspicious…
  • practised social distancing…
  • seen as a potential danger…
  • faces covered for protection… from the hot sun and sandstorms.

Although they were not dealing with the corona virus, this is how shepherds were viewed and treated by the society of ancient Palestine. And yet it is the shepherds who are the very ones that the Angels announced the birth of Jesus to… the ones considered as ‘outsiders’. They are the ones who go before the Holy Family and share the story of their own experience of God.

When God acts in our lives… it’s hard to keep it quiet… it has to be shared… or ‘made known’. As Mary ‘ponders’ these experiences, we are told that “the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen.” The shepherds were blessed by these beautiful experiences, their encounter with the holy and so something positive happened to them… in some mysterious way, they were changed from these very blessings.

What about us? How have we changed in a positive way this past year? If we realize it or not, the pandemic has changed everything… including us because it has touched all of humanity regardless of race, religious persuasion or way of life. Yesterday, on the radio, a question was asked: “what is one positive thing that happened to you in 2020?” When applied to the church, we could ask, “what is one positive thing from last year, that has happened to our faith community?”

From my view point, I have witnessed a deepening of faith… the seriousness to prayer… the birth of a new ministry… pandemic committee that has really brought parishioners together, learning names that go with the faces. This is an example of Evangelization! As well, I have sensed a renewed sense of appreciation for where we live, and what we have in our lives. Also, with the vaccine on its way, there is a renewed sense of hope. Add to this an undercurrent of excitement of what our church will to look like post pandemic. Because once again, like the shepherds, our church has changed because we have been changed.

In the First Reading, God instructs Aaron on how to bless the people. This is a blessing that is still used by many today, including our committal rite at the cemetery. This morning when I woke up, it already 2021 in New Zealand and the announcer said, “here it is… a new year has begun… 2020 is no more…” Let us take this opportunity to bless our new year, that our hearts continue to be opened to God at work within us… that we continue to glorify and praise God for all blessings just as the Shepherds did. And like Mary, ‘ponder’ them in our hearts.”