As I write this, I cannot help but feel the need to tell you three important “secrets” that I have discovered at the stroke of midnight and I am only sharing with you and no one else: (1) there were no three days of darkness in December; (2) the Mayan Calendar is incorrect; (3) the prediction of Nostradamus was totally untrue. As we stand here and look back, I am sure we can smile and even laugh at ourselves… for being foolish at stocking our homes with blessed candles and also food, for being afraid that it is all coming to an end, and for wishing our friends “Happy Dooms Day” of 21 December. When I asked a few friends over Christmas, the same ones who about a month ago “interrogated” me about the three days of darkness, they now tell me “No lah……. I too didn’t believe!”
Yes this past year we did have some of the signs that the Bible speaks of as the “signs” that the world is coming to an end. We had earthquakes, hurricanes, war, civil unrest… and much more. But the fact that you and I are here today tells us that the world did not end. Maybe all of this has a lesson for us.
Today we gather in Churches throughout the world to not only celebrate the beginning of a new year, as Catholics we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. If on Christmas day our focus was on the new born baby Jesus, today our focus is entirely on the mother of that same child Jesus. In the gospel, Mary is portrayed as one who “treasured all these things [happenings] and pondered them in her heart.” From the moment the Angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she is going to be with child, there must have been many thoughts that went through her mind, feelings that she could not express to anyone, anxiety that no words can describe, panic attacks that no one understood…. Yet through all this Mary is portrayed throughout the gospels as one who is calm and filled with an inner peace that no one in her situation could have experienced.
Anyone of us in the situation of Mary would have been running from saint to saint making novenas, lighting candles, going on our knees, and even much more. Yet Mary is calm and serene through all of this. What makes this possible? There can only be one answer…..her total TRUST in God. At the Annunciation, Mary did display a moment of doubt when she asked “How could this be?” But from then on, it was her reliance of God’s promise that carried her through the difficult moments. From the moment she said “Let it be done according to Your will”, there was no turning back for she knew deep within her heart that God is always faithful to His words and will never go back on it.
Our celebration today calls us towards the same direction. Every new beginning brings with it some moments of doubt, anxiety, insecurity…..as we are entering the unknown. Like the first day of school / college / university, starting a new job, moving to a new home/town… how will my health be? How will I cope now that I have lost a loved one? In fact, there will be more questions than answers as we move into a new year. For this reason then, the Church offers us Mary as a model to emulate… TRUST.
Trust is not something that we can acquire overnight. In fact, I will be the first to acknowledge that trust is easier said than done. But trust has to be something that is consistent with our faith. Most often, when we encounter a problem, we seek all human ways to solve it and this is the way we have been taught to solve problems…we are exposed to many problem solving strategies, e.g., abstraction, brainstorming, lateral thinking, etc. Organizations pay to conduct these programmes to help its employees to be effective.
Human experience tells us that we often turn to God only when we have exhausted all means of solving a problem and have nowhere / no one else to turn to. Maybe this is where our problem lies…God is our final resort and not the first one we turn to.
Mary shows us that she started on the right path by trusting God from the very first moment… all she needed to do was to let go and let God in. Most of us have no problems with letting God in but many of us have issues with letting go because it would mean that I am no longer in control and this goes contrary to what society tells us… be strong, be independent, don’t rely on other people, etc. I want to emphasise that letting go & letting God is not the same as giving up. Letting go & letting God simply means that no matter what the outcome may be (may not be what we want) there is an active reliance on God. Some may think that letting go & letting God means not doing anything and wait for things to happen. On the contrary, letting go and letting God is being proactive, doing my best, and allowing God to shape the outcome…..and to be able to accept the outcome is the fruit of trusting God!
As we enter the New Year, we are bound to encounter challenges, difficulties, problems… it does not mean that God does not love us or that He does not care for us and has abandoned us. We just celebrated Christmas and God has shown us in a tangible and concrete manner how much He loves us by sending His only Son into our world. All we need to do is to be able to trust Him by putting our lives in His hands and today in our celebration, we have the assurance of Mary’s intercession, a Mother who cares and loves us unconditionally, as we journey on the path of life.
– Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 1 January 2013