SUNDAY HOMILY: Christmas Through the Eyes of Mary
the Holy Family was forced to leave their home in order to escape the evil intentions of Herod. But, when they returned to Nazareth, Mary continued believing during the long years of Jesus' hidden life, without ever seeing any miracles at all.
However, her greatest trial of all was Our Lord's passion. She did not run away like the others had done. She stood at the foot of the cross and continued to be heroically obedient because of her heroic faith.
Fidelity is an austere virtue. Fidelity demands self-knowledge, generosity, sacrifice and a lot of courage.
Mary is our model of fidelity.
The daily struggle and the failures can be overwhelming at times. But, fidelity is an adventure, and the "good fight" is exhilarating. As time goes on, we can become weary of the battle.
Personally, I believe it is far better to drag an exhausted body and spirit through the difficulties of life, rather than to give in to the promptings of the flesh which make us yearn for an easier life.
Rather than to give in to the sirens of comfort, I prefer to hear these words from my Lord at the moment of death: "I know too that you have perseverance, and have suffered for my name without growing tired" (Revelation 2: 3).
I have much for which to thank the Blessed Mother. Throughout my life she has always been close to me, even though at times I have not always been the attentive son I should have been.
As December 24th, the 25th anniversary of my priestly ordination quickly approaches, I give thanks to my Blessed Mother who has been intimately present in my vocation to the priesthood.
Back in 1975, I discovered my calling after the recitation of the evening Rosary at Magdalen College. On December 24, 1987, the Marian Year proclaimed by Blessed Pope John Paul II, my ordination took place in Rome, under the maternal gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe. On the morning of December 25, surrounded by a small gathering of family and friends, I celebrated my first Mass in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major.
It is through Mary, that each day I am able to hold her Son in my trembling hands. I am a happy priest. I love what I do and I thank Mary for the awesome gift of the priesthood.
Twenty five years ago, the night before my ordination, in a quiet and secluded corner of the seminary where a beautiful image of Our Lady watched over us, I knelt down before her. In the silence of my heart I prayed: Mary, you know who I am and you are with Jesus. You know that he has called me to be his priest. If I am going to be a bad priest, tell your Son to call me tonight to his side, because I do not want to lose him. The next morning as I awoke, I was filled with a profound sense of confidence that Jesus would give me all of the graces that I needed to fulfill my mission as his priest.
Mary, my Mother, has always been there for me. Twenty five years have been filled with tremendous blessings and great victories for the Kingdom, but they have been accompanied by much suffering and persecutions. Through it all, Mary has always been there to comfort me and urge me on to fulfill my mission until the end. I long to see her one day in heaven. When we embrace and kiss, the suffering of the cross will give way to the bliss of the resurrection.
As we intensify our preparation for the celebration of Christmas, perhaps certain sadness might cloud the joy that is proper to this time of the year. Many are the challenges of our times. The constant attacks of secularism, materialism and hedonism makes it challenging to live authentic Christianity. Many families suffer from many serious difficulties and problems. All of these things attempt to suffocate the gift of faith that has been given to us.
Our world is a broken world, filled with so much violence and so many tragedies.
It is precisely in difficult and challenging times that we must look to the witnesses of faith. Mary is the greatest of them all. Through her pilgrimage of faith, she walked into the night of faith. Not everything was clear for Mary, but she continued to trust and she continued to obey.
She abandoned herself entirely into God's loving and providential care. Full understanding only came to her at Pentecost. It was there that she understood all the things that she had cherished in her heart.
As we quickly approach the celebration of the birth of Jesus, let us prayerfully consider these words, again, from Fr. Guardini: "What is demanded of us, as of her, is a constant wrestling in fide with the mystery of God and with the evil resistance of the world. Our obligation is not delightful poetry but granite faith - more than ever in this age of absolutes in which the mitigating spell ...
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: sunday homily, homily, homilies, mary, advent, christmas, father james farfaglia
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