Merry Christmas, Mary

(Homily for Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A)

Bottom line: These final days in Advent give us an opportunity to thank Mary for her role in salvation and for her example that guides us.

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent we focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary. It used to be that we Catholics placed great emphasis on Mary while our Protestant brothers and sisters tended to ignore her. That is changing - and sometimes Evangelical Christians remind us about Mary's important role. There is nice Country Western hymn that Johnny Cash sings, called Merry Christmas, Mary. Here are some of the lyrics (don't worry, I won't sing them):

Merry Christmas, Mary. Thank you for the child.
Thank you for Lord Jesus thank you for the child.
Too often we forget
To thank you for your part in giving the greatest Christmas present yet.

The parents here know that if your child receives a gift from an uncle or grandparent, you are going to make sure he sits down to write a thank-you note. If a child doesn't learn to say "thank you," he becomes an ingrate. And what about us? Do we thank Mary for the greatest gift ever?

In today's Gospel we get a small small idea how much she suffered. She said, yes, to the Angel and conceived a son by the power of the Holy Spirit. But Joseph, her betrothed, did not understand. She suffered the rejection of the man she loved most. Naturally, she felt alone, abandoned. It was only when God revealed it to him in a dream that Joseph accepted Mary as his wife. With the support of St. Joseph, she could face any trial Still, it was no easy. We should thank Mary for all this.

Pope Benedict speaks about this in his new encyclical . He notes that for over a thousand years, Christians have greeted Mary as "Star of the Sea." In former days, mariners used the stars to guide them home. As the pope observes, "The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives." Along with Jesus, Mary is the greatest guide for our journey home.

The Holy Father then speaks directly to Mary: "Your life was thoroughly imbued with the sacred scriptures of Israel...Mother of Hope, Mother of God, our Mother, teach us to believe, to hope, to love with you. Show us the way to his Kingdom! Star of the Sea, shine upon us and guide us on our way."

Mary is a great example for our lives. She is the star that guides us. In these final days of Advent we walk with her, with the unborn Child and with St. Joseph. Let's go to Bethlehem. Let's go to the manger. And this is very good moment to thank the Virgin Mary:

Merry Christmas, Mary. Thank you for the child.
Thank you for Lord Jesus, thank you for the child.
Merry Christmas, Mary. Too often we forget
to thank you for the greatest Christmas present yet.
Merry Christmas, Mary.


Earlier Version

Spanish Version p> From Archives (Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A):

2013: Model of Faith
2010: Why Honor Mary?
2007: Merry Christmas, Mary
2004: Joseph, Do Not Be Afraid
1998: Iraq & Birth of Jesus

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