Today the Catholic Church throughout the whole world celebrates a special feast day that reminds us how special Mary, Jesus’ Mother, is to all of us. God chose her from among all possible women in the history of the world to be the Mother of Jesus. She was without sin and lived a life of perfect holiness. In a month, we will celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus. We have all seen beautiful pictures of Jesus’ birth in the manger in Bethlehem. Already in the stores and malls, we see all kinds of Christmas decorations like Christmas trees and lights. Television commercials offer the things that we might like to receive as Christmas presents. But, all these things should never get in the way of our understanding of the true meaning of Christmas: God gave us his only Son to be our savior. Jesus is God but he also is a human being like us at the same time. That is not easy to understand. We call it a mystery. But we believe it. It is our Catholic faith. Because Jesus, our God, also shares being human with us, we call him our brother. That makes Mary, his Mother, our Mother, too. And like our own Moms, she loves us in a very special way. We are important to her and she is important to us. Mary is not God but she has a special relationship to God through Jesus and she invites us, asks us to have a special relationship to God through Jesus, her Son.
As a young girl, Mary’s parents, Ann and Joachim, took good care of her and made sure she grew up strong in her faith and religion. They brought her to the temple in Jerusalem and prayed with her. They dedicated her to God before Jesus was born. That is what this special feast day is all about, the “presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the temple.”
Our parents take good care of us and want us to grow up strong in our Catholic faith and religion. That is why we are here in our parish Church today. We are praying the most important prayer of our Catholic faith, the Mass. In Catholic school, going to Mass is the most important thing we do together. It is a part of being in a Catholic school that makes us different from our friends in public school.
Today, our parish Catholic school, St. Gregory the Great Academy, is being honored by our country as a “Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.” That means we have been singled out among the best schools in our country. What a great thing! Your parents have made that possible for you. Your pastor and your teachers and staff have made that possible for you. We should thank them for all they do! But, do you know what else? You have made that honor possible for you and for one another because you work hard and study well. Others see that and honor you. But do you know what else? Your Catholic faith has made this honor possible for you. It is why you are here in this school and not someplace else. Just as Mary learned about her faith in the temple, you are learning about your faith here. And that is what makes St. Gregory the Great, truly and totally excellent. Celebrating your excellence and the honor you have received here at Mass on this special feast of the Blessed Mother is the best way you can celebrate the Blue Ribbon you have received. May God bless you and may Mary keep you close to her Son, Jesus.