THEME: MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
READINGS: Numbers 6:22-27 / Galatians 4:4-7/ Luke 2:16-21
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God
On every New Year Day, our Church celebrates the solemn feast of Mary as the Mother of God and prays for peace in the world. This homily focuses on the solemn feast.
Before reflecting on Mary as the Mother of God, it is fitting to thank and praise God for the gift of a New Year. Every new day is a gift of God for which we should thank Him. In this light, a New Year is a special gift which should elicit our heartfelt gratitude to God. As we thank God, may He grant us a year in which the coronavirus is exterminated and progress made in diverse human endeavours.
In addition, let us pray for peace in our nation and the world as a whole. As we do so, let us resolve to be agents of peace by promoting justice and other human rights which are based on the will of our Creator.
Now, let us reflect on the solemn feast of Mary, Mother of God. Until my ordination as a priest, my mother’s neighbours called her either Auntie Kate or Auntie Esi. However, subsequently, having assumed the priestly title, “Father”, people referred to my mother “Father’s Mother”. Similarly, reflecting on the fact that Jesus Christ is not only human but truly divine, some early Christians referred to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the “Mother of God”.
Now, long before the Church officially used the title of “Mother of God”, the Holy Spirit had inspired St. Elizabeth to call her then young cousin, Mary, “the Mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). And the circumstance in which St. Elizabeth made this proclamation makes the revelation of God’s favour on the Blessed Virgin Mary more amazing. That is, even before the Blessed Virgin Mary could narrate to her older cousin the good news she had received from the angel Gabriel, even before Mary had any external sign of pregnancy, Elizabeth could exclaim: “why is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:43)?
Here, the title “Lord” is in reference to the divine; it is not a mere human title of honour as given to bishops, judges or kings. If this is not clear to some people, the testimony of the doubting Thomas may settle the matter. When St. Thomas eventually saw the risen Lord Jesus, he did not simply say, “My Lord”, rather he exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
That Jesus Christ is God is evident in many New Testament passages. May it suffice to refer to only the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. This is the testimony of St. John: “in the beginning was the Word (Christ) and the Word (Christ) was with God. And the Word (Christ) was God” (John 1:1).
Subsequently, at the appointed time, in order to save us, “the Word (Christ) became flesh (man) and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) through conception and birth by the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gal. 4:4-7).
Furthermore, it may be necessary to clarify that by referring to St. Mary as the “Mother of God”, we do not imply that she gave birth to the Son of God before the world was created. Not at all! Rather, what we mean is that when the eternal Son of God was to become man, it was St. Mary who conceived and gave birth to Him. Thus, on the one hand, St. Mary is honoured with the title of “Mother of God”, because of who Jesus Christ has always been: the Son of God. On the other hand, since Mary is human, this title informs us that our Saviour, though divine, became truly human (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).
Let us, now, conclude with some prayerful wishes for the New Year:
- May Christ, who though divine became human, bless us with His power as God! Amen!
- May He, who experienced suffering as a man, but saved us with His power as God, deliver the world from the scourge of COVID-19. Amen!
- May He who gave His mother, Mary, to us as our mother (John 19:26-27), favour our families throughout the New Year, as He once blessed the couple at Cana (John 2:1-11), when His mother interceded! Amen!
Have a Happy New Year with God’s special blessings!
By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis
Credit: The Nativity is a painting by Greg Olsen