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Mary’s “Yes” and Jesus’ Birth Put the “New” in New Year

Fr-Lawrence-Lew-OP-CC

Canonry of St. Leopold - published on 12/30/14

Traditionally – and I’m sorry this has faded away – today was the liturgical celebration of the Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord. Perhaps modern sensibilities don’t like this feast, but it has two very important elements leading us into the new year (of grace, and also of the calendar). It is the first time that the Precious Blood of our Lord was spilled, in the fulfillment of the Old Law: every act of the Lord’s life was salvific, and even this shedding of His Blood would have been sufficient to save us! Recall St. Thomas Aquinas’ poignant lines from the Adoro Te Devote speaking of Christ’s shed Blood: “me immundum munda tuo sanguine, cuius una stilla salvum facere totum mundum quit ab omni scelere.” “wash me, who am unclean, clean with Your Blood, of which one drop can save the whole world of all its crimes.” This day was also the day on which the Lord was given His sacred Name, Jesus – Yeshua – which we may render “The LORD is a saving cry!” How better could we start any new year than under the banner of this name?

Yet, today we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, under the title of Mother of God. How does this come together with our previous reflections? Certainly, to begin the year with Our Lady is in itself fitting, but there is still more. So, we go back to the image of the crowds in Times Square, awaiting the sign that the New Year has begun, and more than the sign, the reality that it, with all its possibilities, is really here to move us onward, to leave behind what has failed and to have, quite simply, a future.

Mary is not only that sign but also that reality. Had she not said “Yes,” had she not been willing to live entirely for the Lord, Christ would not have been born. It is interesting, perhaps, to debate what the Lord might have done had she not accepted His call, but the reality is that she did! So, in a real way, which takes nothing away from the fact that Christ alone is the Savior of the World, we can say – just as certainly as we can call Mary the Mother of God –  that without her, He would not have come. She ushered in the New Year of Grace, once for all time at the Birth of Christ, but also, now, at the beginning of each year with her example and her intercession. If you insist, we can call this a coincidence; I would suggest providence. In any case, it is a clear sign of not only how our future began, with Mary’s “Yes,” but of how we wish to begin each year, each moment of our future, by following her example and saying with everything we do and experience in this coming year “Yes” to God’s plan for us.

Prepared for Aleteia by the Canonry of Saint Leopold. Click 
here to learn more about the Canons Regular of St. Augustine.

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