One of the major contentions between Protestants and Catholics lies in Mary’s place in Salvation History. For Protestants, including bible- based Evangelicals, Mary is just a simple girl, called by God to give birth to Jesus. Other Marian celebrations, Papal pronouncements and Church’s dogmas are almost absurd. For them, Catholic preoccupation to Mary impedes the pre- eminent role of Jesus Christ in the Economy of Salvation and thus, leads people away from rendering Jesus, the Savior, the highest praise. Such was their claim.
But good, practicing and well-informed Catholics, of course, know the difference and can easily draw the fine line. They understand the unique and pivotal role of Jesus as the sole Mediator between God and Man whereas honoring Mary as the Mother of God, to whom a special kind of veneration called, hyperdulia, is given.
The first day of the year is extremely important for both the church and society. Tonight, the world turns its attention on the crystal ball to mark the beginning of a new year and gaze at the spectacular show of fireworks in major cities, while Committed Catholics make their way to the church on a chilly Thursday night to start the year with a spiritual bang, an awareness of the sacred and a strong resolve to follow the example of the Blessed Virgin.
On the Octave Day of Christmas, the Church turns to Mary as the God-bearer when she proclaimed the good news of what God has done and will do to the world. Mary’s yes to the angel made it possible for the Son of God to be born in human flesh. The famous song of Mary echoes with great joy to the hearts of the many individuals who thought that God has forgotten his promise. It describes that what God has done for her, God will do for those like her, the poor, the powerless, the lowly, the forgotten, the brokenhearted and to those whose lives are sinking.
As we look forward to New Year, may we remember to magnify the Lord, to rejoice in God the Savior, to show mercy, to bring down those who feel there is no God, to send the self-possessed empty away and find a place for God in their hearts, to lift up the lowly, to light a path, and to fill the hungry with good things. Through Mary’s intercession, may we always keep the fire burning despite being trapped in difficult circumstances, caught in the ambiguities, in the brokenness and anxieties of life. May we remain close to God, even if we’re barely holding on, doing our best effort to stay the course.
Remember Mary whenever you think God has answered your prayers, when you get annoyed and irritated by your co-worker, whenever the traffic makes you impatient, whenever life makes no sense, when you feel down, uncertain, troubled, and distressed, when something mysterious happens to you, when your faith is tested, when you lose hope, when you forget to love your best friend, parents, and your siblings, when your car breaks down, when the prices go up, when your boss treats you nothing but a piece of dirt, when your constituents fail to meet the deadline, when you don’t like the person next door, when your friend speaks behind your back and finally, on the first day of the year, we sing and recite the beautiful words of Mary that we may also become God-bearer by bringing the lyrics of the song into our daily lives.
Finally, filled with new hopes and dreams, may the joyful response of Mary, be the anthem of our faith, the tempo of our lives, the rhythm of our hearts, and the melody of our souls as we face the challenges, the promises and mysteries life has to offer for 2010. Amen.