This is the last day of the year, and we are literally at the “11th hour” but that notion of the 11th hour comes from the Gospel with its note of promise – that even those who come at the 11th hour can receive all the benefits of the whole day’s work. In our case, if we approach this moment well, we can recuperate the whole year.
Our liturgy is dedicated to Mary, Mother of God because tomorrow is the feastday and we are now at the Vigil. Mary helps us prepare for this moment. I would like to suggest three aspects. I want to suggest that we imagine a package or basket that we are being asked to fill now so as to offer it to God at this last day of the year. So what can we put into it?
Firstly, as a year comes to an end, we look back and review. It is important to give thanks. Mary did that in the Magnificat – she gloried God for the great things he had done. God has been at work in our lives. It’s a time to give credit to God for what he has done. Not just in our own lives, but in society, in the Church, in others we know. Name those moments and put them into the package.
Secondly, But we also know that we haven’t always lived the Christian life. There have been faults and failings in our thoughts, our words, in what we have done and in what we have failed to do. As Pope Francis asked this day last year: “let us courageously ask ourselves: how have we lived the time which He has given us? Have we used it primarily for ourselves, for our own interests, or have we also sought to spend it on others? How much time have we reserved for being with God, in prayer, in silence, in adoration? Again we can think also of the need for mercy in many areas of life – in the Church, in society. Here we need to make a huge act of trust in God’s mercy. Mary’s Magnificat tells us “His age endures from age to age”. This is the age of mercy, Pope Francis, tells us. Let’s ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy and put all of these joys and sufferings but desire to start again in a little spiritual package and hand that over to God this evening.
Thirdly, tomorrow we begin a new phase of our earthly journey. We make proposals for the future. A new year is going to open up for us. I want to make a suggestion: why not make it a year of the “yes”. Mary’s “yes” to God wasn’t something she said just at the Annunciation – she lived it all her life long, also in the face of obstacles. Perhaps we don’t always think of it but Mary faced obstacles all her life long. But her “yes” continued. So why not decide that my attitude this coming year is going to be “yes” to God in whatever I face – good experiences and joys that God wants for me – yes; obstacles in other people or situations that I meet – yes to that suffering; ill health or personal difficulties – yes to whatever it is that God has in store for me this year ahead. Make it a year of the “yes”. Let’s put that proposal into our package.
Now let’s place that spiritually here on the altar, uniting it with Jesus’ offering to the Father on our behalf. His is always “yes” so our lives are taken up and made perfect by him