Once upon a time, Robert Bruce was the king of Scotland when it was not a part of England. The king of England at that time led his army to drive King Bruce out of Scotland. The Scottish army fought back but lost the battle six times. The soldiers of the Scottish army scattered in different directions. All King Bruce could do was run for his life. It started to rain when he was in the woods. He found shelter in a cave. While in the cave, he observed a tiny spider trying to weave a web from one end of the cave to another. The spider made many attempts but failed. After failing six times, the spider tried the seventh time and succeeded in weaving the web.

Looking at the suffering spider, King Bruce felt sorry for it. After the spider succeeded in weaving the web, the King noted that the spider failed six times but did not give up until it succeeded the seventh time. He also remembered that his army lost the battle six times already. Inspired by the spider, King Bruce left the cave and reorganized his troops. He even recruited more soldiers after which he fought the English Army the seventh time. And sure enough, the Scottish Army won this time. So, King Bruce liberated and retook his nation from the English.

Today is the beginning of the year 2024. Today, in the Church, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. In Previous Years, I reflected on this solemnity from Mary’s Point of View; today, I would like to reflect on this solemnity from God’s point of view.

It began in the Book of Genesis. In six days, God created heaven and earth and everything in them. He saw that all he created was good. He gave himself thumbs up; he gave himself a path on the back, and he rested. Not long after that, the serpent came and messed everything up by tempting Eve, and by extension, Adam. God was not happy with the failure of Adam and Even. Ordinarily, one would have expected God to have given up totally on humanity and all of creation. But instead of giving up, God said to the serpent, “I am coming back for you.” He promised to renew his creation. He promised to create enmity between the woman and the serpent. He added that the woman’s offspring would crush the serpent’s head.

In the story of the fall of Adam and Eve we see what seemed like the failure of God’s creation. But God would not let failure have the final say. So, God promised to fight back in a grand style. This promise of God was fulfilled in the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a woman who was conceived without the stain of the sin of the first woman, Eve. While Eve chose the words of the serpent over those of God, the new Woman, Mary, chose the word of God when at the annunciation she said, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.”

God would not let failure have the final word; God promised to fight back. We see the fulfillment of that promise in the birth of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate at Christmas. The first Man disobeyed God, but this new man, Jesus Christ, would obey God even to the point of death on the cross. Today, on the eight day after Christmas, we are celebrating the Holy Mother of God, the Mother of Jesus Christ. A man and a woman failed in the Garden of Eden. God would not let failure have the final say, so, in the new dispensation, a man and a woman, Jesus and Mary, would perfectly do the will of God.

My Dearly Beloved in Christ, as we begin this New Year, 2024, I ask you: How many times have you failed in the previous year? How has your relationship broken in the past year? How many tests, interviews, exams, etc have you failed? How many times have your businesses failed? How many times have you confessed a particular sin and still find yourself falling again? What are you telling yourself based on such failures? Are you letting the failure have the final say, or are you ready to strategize and fight back? Remember, God does not cause evil, but if he permits anything, be sure that behind it, there must either be a blessing or a lesson.

In the older version of the Easter Proclamation (Excultet), we sing, “O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a redeemer.” From pain came gain; from shame came fame. It was because of the fall of our first parents that we gained the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the gift of Jesus Christ our Savior.

My dear friends, it does not matter the area you failed in the past; it does not matter how many times you failed in the past. The spider in the opening story failed six times but did not give up. It made it the seventh time. King Bruce failed six times. He gave up, but was inspired by the spider, he went for the seventh time and won. If God in his perfection created a good world, and yet the serpent messed it up, who are you to think that everything you do must go in the way you intended it. But God would not let failure have the final say. So, you also must not let failure have the final say in your life this year. The point you are standing now may not be the end, just take one more step, and you will realize that it was not the end, but only a bend. But you will not know until you take the next step.

As we begin this New Year, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, may God change all stumbling blocks in our way into stepping stones, leading us from one victory unto another until we come to our heavenly inheritance, through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Ochigbo

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