This past Wednesday we celebrated the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, as we began a New Year. As we reflect on this day, we look to Mary as a model, and we are urged to follow her example of holiness. As noted in the publication “Catholic News Agency”, Pope Francis said, “Devotion to Mary…is a requirement of the Christian life.” He stated, “If our faith is not to be reduced to an idea or doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart, one which knows how to keep the tender love of God and to feel the heartbeat of all around us.” He further indicated, “For Mary is exactly what God wants us to be, what he wants his Church to be: A Mother who is tender and lowly, poor in material goods and rich in love, free of sin and united to Jesus, keeping God in our hearts and our neighbor in our lives.” He challenged Catholics to be faithful as Mary was faithful.
As we take to heart these words of Our Holy Father, we also note that this Sunday we celebrate the great feast of the Epiphany of the Lord. We remember the wise men, who faced many obstacles on their journey of faith to encounter Christ, and how they persevered in their journey. Like the wise men, we are challenged to persevere on our journey of faith, despite the obstacles which we may encounter. As mentioned previously, as we strive for perseverance, Pope Francis has challenged us, as Catholics, to be a more integral part of the Church. He spoke of the bond of unity and sharing that should mark the lives of all Christians on their spiritual journey. We can support each other, encourage each other, work with each other, and pray for each other on the way. As we celebrate the Epiphany, as disciples, we can lift each other up spiritually as we reaffirm our commitment to strive to give honor and glory to the Lord who loves us.
Pope Francis stated that the wise men who came from afar speak of the universality of the Christian message which is for all people. He reminded us that the Church wants all people of faith to encounter Jesus and to experience His merciful love.
As we begin this New Year, and as we reflect on the Solemnity of Mary and the feast of the Epiphany, we are invited to heed the words of Pope Francis and truly strive to set aside the many distractions in our lives and embrace a more spiritual focus as we continue on our journey of faith.