Thursday, January 01, 2015

Why the World Needs Mary Now More Than Ever

(Mary, the Mother of God, 2015: This homily was given on January 1, 2015 at St. Pius X Church, Westerly, R.I., by Fr. Raymond Suriani.  Read Galatians 4: 4-7; Luke 2: 16-21.)

[For the audio version of this homily, click here: Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God 2015]

The world always needs Mary.  It needs her example; it needs her holiness; and it needs her powerful prayers.

But the world needs Mary today more than ever!  It needs our Blessed Mother now more than at any other time in the past.

At least that’s how I see it.

That’s the thought I want to focus on in my homily today, as we begin the new calendar year of 2015.

FIRST OF ALL, WE NEED MARY BECAUSE SHE REMINDS US THAT WE ARE ALL MEMBERS OF THE SAME RACE: THE HUMAN RACE!  We heard in our second reading from Galatians 4 that when the fullness of time had come God sent his Son, born of Mary, to die for us “so that we might receive adoption.”

The “we” in that text means “everybody”—without exception!  The “we”, in other words, includes both the people we like and people we don’t like; it includes those little, microscopic people in the womb as well as those old, sick people in the nursing home on the verge of death; it includes people of our ethnic and racial groups and people of every other ethnic and racial group.

Simply put, it includes everyone from natural conception to natural death.

This is something we seem to be forgetting more and more these days.  Think of all the racial violence and anti-police violence in our country in recent months; think of the ongoing terrorism problem in the world, and the persecution that many people (especially many Christians) are experiencing all over the planet.

Mary, we need you—the new Eve—to remind us that we share a common humanity.  Your Son died and rose so that we ALL might become adopted sons and daughters of God.  When Jesus said those words to you on Good Friday, “Woman, behold your son,” St. John was the one standing there, but St. John stood there REPRESENTING ALL OF US.  He stood there representing every human person.


Mary’s importance in Christianity is a given.  No need dwell on that.  But she also has the potential to appeal to our Jewish brothers and sisters, given the fact that she was Jewish herself—and the greatest human person who ever lived!  (Jesus, remember, was a divine Person so he’s in a different category.) 

And she is already revered in Islam!  She’s the only woman mentioned in the Koran, and she’s mentioned over thirty times!  The founder of Islam, Mohammad, believed that his daughter, Fatima, had the highest place in heaven—after the Virgin Mary!

Many people are not aware of those things.

WE ALSO NEED MARY BECAUSE SHE SHOWS US THAT IT’S POSSIBLE TO LOVE YOUR ENEMIES.  We have no record of Mary ever saying a hateful word to anyone, or engaging in a spiteful or vengeful action toward anyone—even the people who murdered her only child.

And we know for a fact that she never did those things because she was sinless.

We will never be perfect like Mary, that’s true—but we can all improve in our ability to love: in our ability to love our friends as well as our enemies.

WE ALSO NEED MARY BECAUSE SHE SHOWS US HOW TO FACE SUFFERING: WITH FAITH AND WITH TRUST IN GOD.  She gave us that lesson as she stood silently at the foot of her Son’s cross with St. John.

WE NEED MARY IN A REALLY BIG WAY BECAUSE SHE SHOWS US THAT PURITY IS POSSIBLE IN A SEX-OBSESSED CULTURE.  Lest we forget, the pagan Roman Empire was not exactly “Romper Room”!  It was decadent and materialistic and hedonistic.  In other words, it was just like our society—minus the internet, TV and modern media, of course!

And yet Mary lived with a pure mind, and heart—and body—in the midst of it all.

Mary, our world today desperately needs your prayers and example in this area of life.

AND SPEAKING OF PRAYERS, WE ALSO NEED MARY BECAUSE SHE REMINDS US OF THE IMPORTANCE OF PRAYER AND REFLECTION.  It says in today’s gospel reading that, after the shepherds left the manger in Bethlehem, Mary “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  St. Luke says something similar about the Blessed Mother after the finding of Jesus in the temple when our Lord was 12-years-old.

This means that Mary was constantly taking the events of her life to prayer: reflecting on what God was doing in those events; reflecting on what God was saying to her in those events; reflecting on what God wanted her to do in response to those events.

In the midst of our noisy and very busy lives we need to do the same thing.  Speaking of such matters, when was the last time you made a Holy Hour, or simply put everything aside for at least 15 minutes to focus totally and completely—and quietly—on God?

Which brings me to the final reason I’ll mention as to why the world needs Mary now more than ever (and from one perspective at least this is the most important reason of all): SHE POINTS US TO JESUS AND TELLS US TO OBEY JESUS! 

Mary does not focus attention on herself (she never has and she never will).  Mary is not self-absorbed.  If she were a modern-day politician, she would definitely not be obsessed with her “legacy”—as so many of our public figures are.

Her one concern would be what it always has been: that we do the perfect and holy will of God in our lives!  Mary says to us and to every human person today what she said to the stewards at Cana 2,000 years ago: “Do whatever HE tells you.”

“Do whatever he—my son, Jesus—tells you to do.”

If we want to help to change the world for the better, my brothers and sisters, one of the best things we can do is to bring Mary into our lives (or more fully into our lives): asking for her intercession every day, and allowing her example to inspire us and guide us (especially in the ways I just mentioned in this homily).

And so in conclusion I ask you to make a New Year’s resolution: to bring our Blessed Mother into your life by praying the Rosary each and every day of 2015.  And if you can’t commit yourself to a full 5 decade Rosary, at least commit yourself to 1 decade: an Our Father, ten Hail Marys and a Glory be.

In fact, why don’t we do that together now to end this homily?  One decade—together—to get everyone off to a good start …