Homily - Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - 2021 - Fr Francis Afu

1 January 2021 

Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, 2021

Tiempo de lectura aprox: 2 minutos, 33 segundos

… Bring You Peace

Peace is God’s ultimate Word. The Word spoken in the beginning as Genesis 1 relates. The Word that was with God and the Word that was God… All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being (NRSV John 1:1, 3). The Word became flesh, and dwells among us, calling us to come follow Him, and gathering us around the Father. He is the Word that brings order and form into our world. And He fills the form He establishes with His presence and reveals Himself as our peace (Ephesians 2:14) breaking forth for us.

Today, we gather as a people who have witnessed God’s peace. We gather as a people of the story of God’s creation and redemption. The story of God’s saving action in Christ. We gather with Christ around the Father in the Spirit. We gather to pray for peace in the world. We pray that the good order Christ has established may reign and His presence may bring us to the state of being whole, of completeness, of happiness and harmony, so that each of us may be capable of a full and free development of life. We gather with God’s Mother, asking her intercession.

Our yearning for peace is no different from that of the Israelites at the time when the book of Numbers was written. Biblical scholars believe Numbers was written when the Israelites were in the in-between times – in between their slavery in Egypt and the Promised Land. They were in the wilderness. They were in that space where their rebellion was doing battle with God’s faithfulness. They were tormented, knocked about and living on the margins, not knowing what the future holds except the promise God had made them, the God they disobeyed.

We can only appreciate the gravity of the situation of the Israelites in the wilderness when we examine our own immediate situation and read it in the light of the whole Judeo-Christian narrative. Something has gone off kilter or put it in the words of the poet, Y. B. Yeasts, things have fallen apart, and the centre cannot hold. Christ, who was once our centre, seems to have been replace with something else. As a result, we live as if God did not exist and does not exist. We live craving for the peace we think our military, economy and social system can offer.

But how lasting is our self-designed peace? Look at the Middle East, is there peace? Read the papers from the Western world, do we hear of peace and prosperity? Or reflect on your immediate community, does the reality speak of peace? Is our economy able to offer us the peace that makes us capable of a full and free development of life? See how the Coronavirus brought the powers that be to their kneels. In a sense, we, too, are in the wilderness. We are unconsciously doing battle with God’s faithfulness. We are no different from the Israelites.

We are in the in-between times. God has come. At Christmas, we celebrated His coming. We sang to Him – Glory to God in the highest, and peace to His people on earth. He Himself is our peace. And He is with us, in us and through us bringing about our peace, healing our fetid wounds of sin and division and revealing to us who we can be. But we are yet to fully realise ourselves. We are still struggling with the consequences of our rebellion. However, like the Israelites in the wilderness, God is not abandoning us. His faithfulness supersedes our sin.

Even at our worst, God is asking us to take on His name and call down His blessings. In our first reading from Numbers 6:22-27, He said, ‘This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel.’ We are the new Israel. We are to humble ourselves and ask the Lord to uncover His face and bring us peace. According to the Collegeville Bible Commentary, the Lord uncovers His face to those who are dependent on him and in need of His help. This means we have to bring ourselves to the Lord who is already with us, but whom we have in many ways ignored.

Without Him, we cannot truly be peace or experience peace. For peace is a person. Peace is who we become when we are free of what puts us at odds with God, with our neighbours and with ourselves. We become peace when we are free to live for God and for others. We become peace through the cross. And the beatitudes say ‘blessed are the peace makers’, that is, those who make others peace, breaking down barriers between people and creating a new people. Peace is about creating a person: gathering “our dust”, moulding it, and breathing in new life.

Fr Francis Afu


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