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Mary and the New Year

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For the Catholic Church, the New Year is celebrated under the aegis of Mary, Mother of God. Christ, is after all the Alpha and the Omega, the One who rides the waves of history and leads all to the harbor of our true homeland. Coming as it does within the season of the Birth of the Lord, we cannot but have in our minds the image of Mary in whose lap the King of Kings sits. She is also in this sense “Throne of David” and “Seat of Wisdom”. That is how the Magi from the East found her with her new-born. But most of all, she is “Mother”.

At the beginning of the New Year, therefore, we turn our gaze to Mary, “Stella maris”, “Star of the Sea”, the one who guides the bark of salvation in its journey through the sea of history. She, the Mother of Our Lord, gives us only one command: “Do whatever He (the Christ) tells you”, echoing the Voice from the Cloud, “This is my Beloved Son, heed Him”.

The community of disciples received her in the person of John as “mother” while she stood beneath the cross. The Church, in her liturgy, recognizes Mary in the Woman whom the Dragon tries to destroy but could not (Rev. 12). The proto-evangelion (Gen. 3:15) is played out in this apocalyptic scene where the Woman gives birth to the Seed who will crush the Ancient Serpent’s head. This Seed is not alone, however, since it has raised other seeds, “other Christs”, that continue to wage war against the Enemy.

Amen, amen, I say to you,
unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground

     and dies,

it remains a lone grain of wheat;
     but if it dies,
          it produces much fruit. (Jn. 12:24)

Even as human history moves forward into that Future which is as yet hidden in God’s bosom, Mary is presented to us as the New Eve, the Mother of a New Humanity, that humanity which has been re-expressed — to use a phrase from John Paul II — in Christ. The “newness” is owed to the death and Resurrection of Christ in whom humanity has been re-created. Just as God breathed into man and made him a “living soul”, so too, Jesus on that first evening of the Resurrection breathed upon his disciples the Holy Spirit, making them new men, the core members of a new family that is

born not by natural generation
     nor by human choice
     nor by a man’s decision
          but of God. (Jn. 1:13)

The New Year is “new” precisely because of the One who makes all things new (Rev. 21:5). And the Woman who who “hastened” the moment of this newness stands at the threshold of this new year as “Mother of All Humanity.” Wasn’t it that Adam called Eve “mother of all the living” at the moment when paradise was lost? And wasn’t it that Jesus on the cross, called Mary “Woman” and “Mother” just when paradise was regained? Mary beckons to us once more at the beginning of 2011. “Do whatever He tells you” she says, pointing to Him who is King of Kings. May her children heed her command.

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