My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We thank God today for the gift of the New Year, this evening. And we entrust ourselves and our families and our great Archdiocese to the heavenly protection of Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God.
As I said, this year is going to be a special year because it is the year of faith. It was declared by the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
Isn’t it so beautiful that the first reading the Church gives us for the New Year — which we just heard from the Book of Numbers — is a blessing from God? Beautiful words:
The Lord let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!
This is the mystery of this Christmas time! God has made himself a Child so that we could love him and see his Face and know his Name. And that’s what the Gospel reading is all about this evening.
The Child that we discover lying in the manger in the Gospel today looks upon each one of us with the Face of God. And by his Holy Name we are blessed and we have salvation.2
The passage of the Gospel is a beautiful passage of the Gospel: the adoration of the shepherds, that we know well.
We can imagine how it was. Probably an evening like tonight, nice and cold. And we can imagine the love of Mary and Joseph for the Child Jesus. We can even probably see our Blessed Mother — her happiness — looking at the Child, her son. And maybe especially noticing little things in the face and in the looks and just loving her son.
We can also imagine the shepherds, listening to the angels and running in haste. And arriving to find Mary and Joseph adoring the child in the manger.
My brothers and sisters, we are called tonight, as we welcome this New Year, to follow the example of those shepherds.
We are called to go over in haste to Bethlehem, just as the shepherds did. We cannot hesitate; we cannot wait to come to Jesus! To look at his face. To be with him. To accompany Our Blessed Mother and Saint Joseph in that beautiful moment. What could be more important in our lives than Jesus and the things of God?
This is, my brothers and sisters, once again, the beauty of the gift of faith. We receive Him, we believe in His Name as we do, he is giving us the power to become children of God.
So tonight, let us ask for the grace, during this coming year, to have that same disposition of the shepherds – running to be with Jesus, learning the good news, the good news of the coming of Jesus. Which is, in our lives, and in the life of the world, the beginning of peace. As we celebrate today, January 1st, World Day of Peace.
Because the Child that Mary shows us today comes as the Prince of Peace. This Child calls all of us to be peacemakers: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”3 See? We are children of God, we are called to be peacemakers.
So we ask our heavenly Father to shine his face upon us today and grant us his peace — in our hearts, in our families, in our church, in our cities, and in our world.
And may Mary our Mother — the Mother of God, and our Mother — accompany all of us and our families in this Year of Faith.
Holy Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us!
1. Readings (Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, Year C): Num. 6:22-27; Ps. 67:2-3, 5-6, 8; Gal. 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21.
2. Acts 4:12.
3. Isa. 9:6; Eph. 2:14; Matt. 5:9.