|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEARS A, B, AND C|
|By Fr Munachi Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for New Year's Day: Mary, Mother of God|
The Old Order Changeth, Giving Place to New
|Numbers 6:22-27||Galatians 4:4-7||Luke 2:16-21|
In all cultures, the passing of the old year and coming of the new is marked by a two-fold celebration. The first phase of the celebration, on the last night of the old year, is marked by noise-making, drunkenness and disordely behaviour. In it humanity re-enacts the primordial chaos that enveloped the world before creation. The second phase of the celebration, as the first day of the new year dawns, is, very different. It is marked by calmness, sobriety, and orderly behaviour. In it humanity reenacts creation, the triumph of order over chaos.
African Christians often ask why there is no feast of the creation in the church’s liturgical calendar. They ask why there is no feast dedicated to God the Father, when we have feasts dedicated to God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. One reason for this omission is because the early Christians were more concerned about the new order of grace that came through Jesus and Mary rather than the old order of nature that came through Adam and Eve. Today’s second reading, taken from Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, dwells on this new order which began with God sending us His son and continues with God sending us His Holy Spirit.
There are two parts to the reading. The first part dwells on the incarnation, the mystery of the Son of God becoming human (verses 4-5). The second part dwells on sanctification, that mystery whereby God sends the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to make us God’s own children (verses 6-7).
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children (Galatians 4:4-5).
Paul sees the entire order of nature, from creation up to the coming of Christ, as a preparation. In the fulness of time, when the preparation was complete, then the real thing happened. God sent His Son. Paul points out the contrasts between the new order in Christ and the old order in Adam.
In other words, the incarnation is a new creation. It is God’s fresh attempt to realize the original purpose of creation, which our first parents failed to abide by. In the incarnation God gives humanity another chance. We can, therefore, say that God sent His Son to become human like us so that we could become God’s children like he is.
And because you are children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God (Galatians 4:6-7).
God’s first attempt to make us His children through creation failed. God would not want the new creation to be a failure also. To ensure that this does not happen, God sends “the Spirit of His Son” into our hearts to teach us and empower us to be and feel and live as God’s children. This indwelling Spirit helps us to know God as our loving Father and address God with familiarity “Abba! Daddy!” This Spirit helps us to know ourselves as God’s beloved children, not as fearful slaves who have to do God’s will under fear of punishment.
As the new year begins, let us see this year as another chance given to us to get it right, to grow in familiarity with God our loving Father, and to grow in our awareness of ourselves as God’s beloved children, all of us, beloved children of the same loving Father.