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01/01/16 Mary, Mother of God - Fr. Reggie

Eight days have passed since we celebrated Christ's birth on Christmas. Most of the world has already left the message of Christmas far behind. But the Church, in its wisdom, has been spending these days in unceasing celebration and contemplation of this most astonishing event in the entire history of the human family. And the liturgy will continue doing so all the way through the feast of Epiphany.

Let's stay in tune with the Church. Let's keep enjoying the message of Christmas, savoring it, living it deeply.

Unfortunately, there are fewer people here at Mass with us today than there were on Christmas Eve. Maybe the noise of New Year's Day has distracted them from the true meaning of every year and every day. That's all right - we are here to pray for them, to take their place beside the manger, so Jesus and Mary don't have to celebrate New Year's Day all alone. In fact, another New Year's Day would have little meaning if Christ had never been born to give us hope and guidance.

One way to activate that hope and make use of that guidance is by following in the Shepherds' footsteps.

First, St Luke tells us that the shepherds "went in haste" to find Christ, to seek him out in the midst of his family, the Church, here represented by Mary and Joseph.  They were eager to meet the Savior, to spend time with him, to get to know him, to receive his blessing. That's why Jesus came to earth in the first place - so that we could more easily find him. The history of humanity is the history of a people lost in darkness and searching for meaning, forgiveness, grace, and light. Jesus is the source of all those things. He is our salvation. That's the significance of the name "Jesus", which means "God saves."

Second, the shepherds "made known the message that had been told them." The news the angels announced to them was too good to keep to themselves. They felt a need to share it, to tell others about the Savior. That is always a sign of an authentic encounter with God.

The third verb that Mary used to describe this scene to St Luke is a double verb. St Luke tells us that after the shepherds made haste to come and see Jesus, and after they told their amazing story to everyone who would listen, they "returned glorifying and praising God." When we seek Christ and share Christ, he fills our hearts with a deep, inner joy.


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