Dear Community and Friends of the Church of St. Francis of Assisi, Peace and all good in this New Year! Welcome to 2023!

Over the years, the Feast for this day has changed. When I was young, it was the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus. This was to keep memory of Jesus’ rootedness as a child of Abraham. His family roots embraced the Covenant with the liberated people wandering
in the desert. It marks him as belonging to the people shepherded by David and the voices of the prophets. The psalms were, for him, a way of prayer. The revelation of God to the people Israel was imprinted in his being.

Shortly after the Second Vatican Council, it was the World Day of Peace. We need to remember our constant prayers for a just peace. Our nation, church, and world are terribly divided. The war in Ukraine, the unrest in Peru, and the thousands of migrants fleeing violence and poverty cry out for a new world of compassionate peace. The shootings of school children, racist violence, and the safety of our streets echo the cry for peace.

Today, we are asked to remember Mary, the God-Bearer, “Theotokos.” We celebrate Jesus coming among us, having taken flesh from his mother, Mary. In his praises of the Blessed Mother, St. Francis speaks of Mary as Jesus’ robe, his tabernacle, and his palace. We remember the blessings of Mary and her primacy as the God- Bearer. We also know that we, like Mary, have been overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and are empowered to be the bearers of God’s presence in our world.

Let’s can combine these images. We are members of the Body of Christ, the People of God, through our baptism. Our shared history with Jesus marks us as a people of the Covenant. Our Covenantal bond transcends the Law of the tablets of stone and is inscribed on our hearts. We are bound to the Covenant of love. The prophets’ voices, the psalmists’ prayers, and the Evangelists’ words call us to live the mission of Jesus in our time. We belong to Christ and to one another. Jesus’ gift to the disciples in his resurrection was and is peace. It is peace through compassionate justice. It is the peace that Pope Francis discusses in Laudato Si’, a peace in communion with all of creation. Finally, through the gift of the Spirit, we are sharers in Mary’s experience of bearing Christ into the world. By our lives, we embody his loving presence.

May 2023 be a year of grace and peace for all. May we live our call as the People of God, peacemakers, and God-Bearers. Thank you for all the many ways you bring his love into being in our world.

Peace and all good,

Thomas M. Gallagher, ofm