January 1, 2023 at St Peter the Apostle Churches in Naples, FL
Numbers 6: 22-27 + Psalm 67 + Galatians 4: 4-7 + Luke 2, 16-21
At some point early in my life as my birthday was coming up, I said something to my father about what gift I was hoping to receive on my birthday. He took that occasion to put me in the car and take me to a gift shop where I thought I would be invited to make my own choice. However, when we got inside, he handed me a five-dollar bill and told me to pick out a gift for my mother telling me with all seriousness that I would not be having a birthday were it not for her. From that day forward, my mother got a gift from me on my birthday.
Were it not for the woman we honor today, there would have been nothing to celebrate last Sunday, and the church says: “Don’t forget that.” To help us put that in some perspective, the church gives us the story of some shepherds, people of meager means lacking sophistication who are told to get over their fear and find a savior who, much like them, would be found in circumstances as humble as their own. When they did, what they found was an infant cared for my two migrants who made him a bed in a cattle crib. For those shepherds, that was enough to fill them with Joy and want to spread the message where ever people would listen. The Savior was just like them.
What those simple shepherds learned and what the clever could not see or comprehend was that God wanted to be discovered in the very circumstances of their lives, that God could be like them, poor, homeless, and dependent. Imagine, a God dependent! Yet, that is exactly what it is. God depended on that woman to begin restoring creation to its glory. She made herself available for God to do what God could not do without her. That is profound, and that is what we celebrate today; the truth that those who put themselves at the service of God, those obedient to the Will of God will always be giving birth to the Christ born among us, and that calls for every year to be a New Year.
Today, once again, it is revealed to us that God’s power depends upon people like us. Today with all the promise of a New Year, a people who long for peace, for justice, and for love we are reminded that God can do these things, but only through those are at the service of the Lord and make God’s will their own.