This Sunday I would like to introduce you a woman who models all have learned about the light of faith:
The definition of faith
Why faith is a light
Faith vs idolatry
Salvation by faith
The inclusivity of faith
That faith makes forgiveness possible
Some of you might wonder and asked who is this remarkable woman. By now you have probably figured out who I mean: the one mentioned in today’s Gospel, the one who fulfills the Isaiah prophecy: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall call him Emmanuel.” The virgin mother is, of course, Mary.
Mary models everything we have learned about faith. In the Gospel, we see today the trial of her rejection by a very good man, the best of husbands – St. Joseph. But Mary kept her faith in Joseph as she did in God.
For us faith involves turning away from idols and turning toward the living God. Mary always kept her focus in the right place: “Let it be done to me according to your word…My soul magnifies the Lord.”
She had total faith in God, but not what some people call a “blind faith.” She asked questions, “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” Faith does not destroy reason. As Pope Francis points out in his encyclical, the light of faith, “faith and reason each strengthen the other.” Some people think that faith and reason are opposed, that there is some kind of war between faith and science. On the contrary, says Pope Francis, “By stimulating wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the world which discloses itself to scientific investigation.”
Mary is the model of wonder before the mystery of God and his creation. As we will hear on New Year’s Day, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” We live in a time of so much noise, so many distractions that we have difficulty finding time for reflection and meditation. Faith cannot survive without prayer. People tell me, “Father, I am too busy.” Yes, you are, but every evening Pope Francis spend an hour in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. Do you have more things to do than the pope does? Do you not find an hour in the evening for a television program or the Internet?
“Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in hear heart.” She is our model for faith and prayer. I know an hour can be a lot, especially when a person is just getting started, but how about 20 minutes in the morning or the evening? If we could do that for the next three days, what a great Christmas we would have!
And the people who come at Christmas might see in us, the light of faith. We need that light because our world seems to grow darker and more uncertain. I talk to so many young people who sense a diminished future. But that does not have to be. Jesus was born in the middle of the night of our world’s darkness. With Mary’s example and prayer we can turn to him. I would like conclude with the poem that Pope Francis addressed to her in his encyclical on the Light of Faith:
Mother, help our faith!
Open our ears to hear God’s word and to recognize his voice and call.
Help us to be touched by his love, that we may touch him in faith.
Help us to entrust ourselves fully to him and to believe in his love,
especially at times of trial, beneath the shadow of the cross.
Sow in our faith the joy of the Risen One.
Remind us that those who believe are never alone.
Teach us to see all things with the eyes of Jesus,
that he may be light for our path.
And may this light of faith always increase in us,
until the dawn of that undying day which is Christ himself, your Son, our Lord!