What aspects of the scriptural readings or prayers for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, might be incorporated into a homily for the National Day of Prayer for Peace?
In the first reading for today, the Lord himself gives a blessing to his priest Aaron through Moses in the Book of Numbers (6: 22-27). He directs Aaron to invoke the same three-part blessing still found among the Solemn Blessings of the Sacramentary, where God is asked to keep us, to shine upon us, and to give us his peace. The third blessing is the natural consequence of the first two: for it is only when we seek God's care and enjoy his rich blessings that we can know "the peace the world cannot give."
The Responsorial Psalm (Psalm 67: 2-3, 6, 8), like today's prayer for peace, is a call for God's mercy (antiphon: May God bless us in his mercy). With the Psalmist, we ask for the blessing of God's mercy "among all nations," in order that they may "be glad and exult," and that "all the peoples may praise God and all the ends of the earth fear him." Peace is to be found only in God, who rules the whole earth "with equity." Thus, just as God offers his friendship to all the nations, so does he offer his peace.
Shepherds were among the poorest and most forgotten of Jesus' day. They had no political influence, no wealth or weapons, and no means of power. God first sent his angel to the poor shepherds in the Bethlehem hills to announce the good news of great joy that today his Son, the Prince of Peace, was born for all mankind. Today we join the shepherds (Luke 2: 16-21) and adore the child in the arms of his Blessed Virgin Mother. In his littleness, we are made strong. By his innocence, we are freed from sin. By his brokenness, we are made whole. Only a few days before, we sang the hymn of the Divine Child sleeping in heavenly peace. Today, as that child rests in Mary's arms, may we know heavenly peace as well!
The second option for the Opening Prayer today speaks eloquently of the light God offers every age amidst the darkness of the world's sin: "Father, source of light in every age, the virgin conceived and bore your Son, who is called Wonderful God, Prince of Peace." The prayer then looks to Mary's maternal intercession for us: "May her prayer, the gift of a Mother's love, be your people's joy through all ages." Finally, the prayer asks that Mary's example "born of a humble heart, draw your Spirit to rest on your people..." Mary is presented to us as the model believer who believed the unfathomable message of Gabriel, endured the initial doubt of Joseph and the exile in Egypt, witnessed the events of Christ's public life, and was tried at the foot of the cross.
We, as members of Christ, with Mary as our Mother and Model, are called to the same faith, now in the grim reality of war, of terrorism, of hatred, of unrestrained violence and the threat of biological attacks. We may feel powerless in the face of so much real and potential evil, but we cannot allow ourselves the luxury of powerlessness. In doing so we shortchange the power of God who hears our prayer and works through us. We are called to believe that God has a plan for us and that God's plan will prevail. We are also called to collaborate in that plan by our own prayer made in union with Christ, our Head, by our efforts to promote peace with those whose lives intersect with ours.