Bottom line: Only by surrending to God - consecrating to Him - will you and I find true freedom.
Happy New Years! At Christmas time a parish priest realizes how much people love him: good wishes, hugs, cards and gifts. They mean a lot and I am grateful for every act of thoughtfulness. I received a gift that I particularly valued. Archbishop Sartain gave a small book: Into Your Hands, Father by Wilfrid Stinissen with the subtitle "Abandoning Ourselves to the God who Loves us." Fr. Stinissen divides his book into three parts: Accepting God's Will, Obeying God's Will and Being God's Instrument. I will use this book as we advance in the New Year.
On Sunday we saw an example of Jesus drawing us into the Father's Will. It's not easy. After three painful days, Jesus tells his parents, "I must be in my Father's house". Jesus places the Father's Will above every earthly consideration. Mary and Joseph do not understand, but they accept. Regarding Jesus the Gospel says simply that he "was obedient to them". There is a commandment, "honor your father and your mother". Jesus fulfilled that command as part of his surrender to the Father's will.
We see that surrender today. Jesus comes not as some generic human being, but as an Israelite - a member of God's chosen and suffering people. As such he receives the Jewish rite of circumcision.
Jesus' mother, of course, is a Jewish maiden. She lived her faith by keeping "all these things, reflecting on them in her heart." As Fr. Stinissen puts it, "Mary lived with her eyes continually turned toward God. Her gaze was one single question, 'What would you have me do?'"
On Sunday I invited you to make an act of consecration to the Holy Family - to place yourself and your family under God's will, asking Jesus, Mary and Joseph to intercede for you. A good day to make this consecration is the Feast of the Epiphany (next weekend).
To lead up to the consecration consider fasting and prayer. I wrote something about this in the bulletin suggesting a Daniel Fast for three days. Begin tonight and continue through Friday evening. We will say the consecration prayer at the conclusion of the prayers of the faithful.
You may have already made the consecration of family. Perhaps you plan on doing it today to begin the New Year. Fasting and prayer for the next three days will either prepare for or consolidate your consecration.
Only by surrendering to God - consecrating to Him - will you and I find true freedom. As St. Paul says, "God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!" So you are no longer a slave but a son..." Amen.
From the archives (New Year's Homilies):
Seapadre Homilies: Cycle A, Cycle B, Cycle C
Audio Files of Homilies (Simple Catholicism Blog)
Take the Plunge Bible Study (audio resources) *New episodes for Summer - Kings and Prophets*
Are these homilies a help to you? Please consider making a donation to St. Mary of the Valley Parish.
Other Priests' Homilies, Well Worth Listening:
Fr. Frank Schuster
Fr. Brad Hagelin
Fr. Jim Northrop
Fr. Michael White
Fr Pat Freitag (and deacons of St. Monica)
Bishop Robert Barron
Bulletin (St. Mary of Valley Parish)
Parish Picture Album
MBC - Mary Bloom Center, Puno, Peru