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Why do we start the year with the feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary? Why not start with God the Father, since he is the origin, the source of everything? Why not start with the Lord Jesus, God the Son whose birth we just celebrated last week? Why not start with the Holy Spirit, who is the gift of the of the Father and Son, the Lord and Lifegiver?  Why Mary?

Every new year is a new opportunity, a new chance, a fresh take on life. It is a chance to grow, a chance to start again, a chance to reform, a chance to change. We all start with hope given us by God to embrace the new, the fresh, the change.

But every year also brings us things we do not expect. There are many things we do not understand. Things unfold not as we dream of them to be, but as surprises that jolt us and make us lose our footing. 

Each year, we or some of those we know get sick and start our maintenance medicines. Each year, some of us start getting old and wearing eyeglasses. Each year, we say goodbye to places of residence, to places of work, to places of conflict in our lives. Each year we also say goodbye to people, and this is the most difficult, when we know they will never return, when we know we will never see them again. 

New year is great, but each year brings mysteries we cannot solve ourselves. And that is why we need to focus on Mary. The gospel of Luke (2: 16-21) is the same each year. The central part is: “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” What did she treasure in her heart? The same things we do not understand today. – Why is God’s plan not accodring to my plan? What is the meaning of the changes in my life? What does God expect of me today? Why does God give gifts but only with challenges?  Why does God send an angel and then make him leave without answering all our questions?

I do not know if Mary found the answers to all her questions. Maybe for some,, yes. Just like with us. But she did not stop loving God, following Jesus and listening to the Holy Spirit. In the gospel of Luke, she is the only person who loved Jesus from the moment of conception, to birth, to chilldhood, to public ministry, to the cross and resurrection, to the formation of the early church. She tried her best to be strong and steadfast in her faith.

That is the same with us today. We have questions, too. – “Lord, why am I sick? Why are there problems at home? Why are there challenges at work? Why do my loved ones die?”

We are not here to praise the Lord, because we have all the answers. We are here to pray to the Lord to give us light each day, each moment, each year. And like Mary, hopefully, we will not give up because God is faithful and we want to cling to him as the only one who gives meaning to all life!

Hail Mary!