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2024: Our Lady fills the year ahead with hope

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Kara Gebhardt | Shutterstock

Tom Hoopes - published on 01/01/24

Whether it's politics, your family dynamic, economic issues, the Church, or anything else that's worrying you, picture the Holy Family.

Whatever it is that frightens you about the year ahead, Mary is here — a true mother — to tell you it will be all right. 

She doesn’t tell you it will be easy, or pain-free, straightforward, or simple. But she does tell you that it will be all right.

Do our national politics frighten you? 

Think of what happened in Mary’s life with Jesus: 

  • Gabriel promised that the Child would rule forever.
  • Simeon said he was the world’s salvation.
  • Anna said he was the redemption of Israel.

But despite all the promises, she had to flee her homeland to Egypt, as if she were reversing the Exodus, fleeing the promised land back to Pharoah. 

It can feel like all the promises of Catholic social teaching bringing a civilization of love have failed, and it can seem like we’re going backwards in our national politics, too, reverting to the politicians and problems of the past. 

But Mary wasn’t afraid. In her arms she held Jesus, the king of the universe who puts earthly power in perspective. Wherever this year leads, our future is safe with him.

Are you afraid for the future of the Church?

Mary and Joseph went to the Temple to name their child and present him to the Lord. But perhaps they did so at the very same time that the chief priests and scribes were meeting with Herod to help him find and kill their son. And who did they meet in the Temple instead? Only two faithful people — an old man and an old woman.

We, too, fear that too many Catholic leaders choose the world over the faith, and that too often the only faithful Catholics are old and alone.

But Mary and Joseph had their son, Jesus Christ, and so do we. He is the source of the Church as its founder, the means of the Church in its sacraments, and the goal of the Church in heaven. The Church has always been his alone and always will be.

Are you afraid for your family?

There are so many new threats to our families today. Ideologies that redefine human families and human bodies — and define both out of existence — prevail in our news, entertainment, corporations, and schools.

What will it mean for our children, for their friends, and for our society?

Mary and Joseph’s family was so close that their cousins became “brothers and sisters.” And when these doubted him, Mary knew what to do: Bring them to Jesus. When she did, he made all of us his family members. 

We can do the same in our small way. In him, we join in the ultimate family, the Trinity — where Jesus our brother gives us Our Father, who never refuses to give the Holy Spirit to our family if we ask

Or maybe it’s the economy that worries you.

If you’re like me, you have always looked forward to the time to come when you won’t have to worry about money anymore — and it’s starting to dawn on you that no such time will ever come.

If so, stay close to Jesus and Mary. He is the Son of God, the Alpha and Omega, who left the riches of heaven for poverty on earth. Mary accompanied him from when he was born in a stable to when he died owning nothing. And she will accompany us, too. 

If you make your home an oasis of faith and love like theirs, the year ahead will be full of hope.

If the year ahead looks overwhelming, picture the Holy Family.

Picture them in the darkness of Bethlehem, surrounded by oxen and donkeys, and a busy city full of taxpayers and census officials. Or picture them in the giant Temple filled with bustling pilgrims, sacrificial animals, shouts and chanting. Or picture them on the night road to Egypt, surrounded by camels and jackals.

Like us, they might have been tempted to feel overwhelmed and alone. But they didn’t, because they had each other, and they had Jesus — which is exactly what we have.  

No matter what worries you most, the answer is to know Jesus better. You’ll always find him in the arms of his mother.

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