Written by Fr. Cielo R. Almazan, OFM (Thanks to Aida L. for sharing.)
Published in the Archdiocese of Manila Homiletic Guide
Experience tells us that the environment becomes noisier and nosier as time ticks to 12 midnight and a few hours after. The loud karaoke singing, never mind if it is out of tune, competes with the sound of the firecrackers. The festive air also becomes polluted more and more as people take delight in their noche Buena, watching their favorite TV stations. Many people believe that when we fire whistle bombs and all sort of firecrackers, we drive away the evil spirits of the old year. Their loud noise scares them away. At dawn, smoke thins out and we hear a few sporadic firecrackers here and there. People are dead in their sleep, tired as if they had just gone to war.
People, Christians and non-Christians, all over the world give importance to this day January 1 because it is the first day of the calendar year. We remove the old calendars and we put the new ones. It is also considered the fiscal year or financial year. That’s why, toward the end of the old year, the people in the business world are frantic in finishing their accounting and other unfinished agenda. The fireworks seem to accompany their jubilation for beating the deadlines.
For us, Christians especially those who are in communion with the Catholic Church under the Pope, New Year is more than lighting fireworks and beating deadlines. We celebrate today the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God. Today we give honor to Mary, a young Jewish virgin, who said Yes to the angel at the Annunciation. Her Fiat made her bear Jesus Christ our Savior in her womb and give birth to him into this noisy world and to mother him until death. Her motherhood is divine because we believe that her Son Jesus is God. He is both human and divine. We draw our faith from the apostolic traditions crystallized in the New Testament and in the church pronouncements later on. Other religions cannot swallow this. They do not believe that Jesus is God.
Mary’s motherhood should teach us something. Motherhood is something beautiful. To be fertile is a gift of God. Married women who did not bear children were believed to be cursed. There was so much joy when the old and sterile Sarah miraculously gave birth to Isaac, the son of promise. There was joy in the whole neighborhood when the old and barren Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. God healed their barrenness. Inability to bear children is sickness; fertility is a sign of good health.
Like Mary, all young girls must be prepared for motherhood. There is always a big possibility that they will become mothers when they get married. Some women forgo this great privilege when they enter the convent or become consecrated, living the vow of chastity. No matter what their vocation will be, young women should take care of their beautiful bodies including their reproductive organs. The whole person, body and soul, is sacred. Human nature has ordained that women, not men, bear children.
Mary’ motherhood also teaches responsible parenthood. This has nothing to do with limiting the number of children, but the responsibility to accompany children in their growth. Mary did not leave child’s development to chance. Mary, along with Joseph, reared her Son, as a normal Jewish boy, brought him to Jerusalem to enjoy religious festivities and to the local synagogue in Nazareth for his spiritual formation. When Jesus grew up, he preached peace and love for life.
Mary’s motherhood teaches that peace starts in the womb and continues to progress when we respect nature and God’s laws. No wonder today is also the World Day of Peace. We cannot promote peace in the world if already in the womb there is already threat to life or if the mother has been conditioned by the vendors of contraceptive mentality that child-bearing is evil, old-fashioned and the cause of poverty.
There is no peace, joy and prosperity in the world if the sanctity of motherhood is under threat by misconceptions, deceptions and infirm laws. We cannot also bring about the desired social and economic order in the world by exploding firecrackers for a few hours. In fact, this leaves many to suffer from physical injuries, gunshots, respiratory ailments, and homelessness because houses or villages get burned during the unbridled revelry.
In this New Year, the whole humanity must overcome fear of its own kind and must stop following the prescriptions of the anti-life multinational corporations, but must act (if I may use the term) like a healthy reproductive organ that gives birth to peace and more beautiful people.
To borrow the words of St. Francis of Assisi, “Brothers, let us begin again for until now we have done very little.”
- Do you love your bodies?
- Do you love your mothers?
- Do you know what your faith demands of you in terms of bringing about peace in your families and in the world?
- For the girls, if you don’t enter the convent, are you willing to become good, healthy and responsible mothers?