Solemnity of Mary Mother of God
January 1, 2021 MassSpeaker: Fr. Lam Le
Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Lk 2:19)
Today begins the new 2021, and the Church honors Mary, the Mother of God. Through the intercession of the Mother of our Savior, may the prayers that Moses indicated to Aaron become a reality for the entire humanity after all challenges of the past year: “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!” (Nm 6:24-26). Let us ponder the tittle, Mother of God, as we set out on a journey with Mary in this new year.
It has been said the two titles, Mother of God, and Blessed Virgin, are the two oldest in the Church’s veneration of Mary. However, the objections to the title, Mother of God, arose in the 5th century, due to the confusion concerning the mystery of the incarnation. Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431) incited a major controversy. Thus, on June 22, 431 the Council of Ephesus convened to settle the controversy. The Council solemnly declared: If anyone does not confess that the Emmanuel is truly God and therefore that the Holy Virgin is the mother of God (theotokos) (Since she begot according to the flesh the Word made flesh), anathema sit.” With this declaration, the Council accomplished two things: first, the profession that Jesus is one person with two natures: human and divine; and second the affirmation that Mary can rightfully be honored with the title Mother of God. Mary did not create the divine person of Jesus, who existed with the Father from all eternity. “In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son the second person of the Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)” (CCC no. 495).
Meditating on the meaning of the title Mary, Mother of God, leads us to bow down in adoration of a profound mystery of the incarnation! “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5). How wonderful and fitting it is on the octave day in the celebration of Christmas the Church asks us to ponder upon this ancient title of Mary! As we ponder this great mystery of how our divine Savior entered this world, taking on our human flesh, to free us from sin, we must do what Mary did as the Gospel today indicates: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). The Greek verb sumballousa, literally means “piecing together” the great mystery is to be discovered little by little. Although the Child lying in a manger looks like all children of the world, at the same time, He is totally different: He is the Son of God. He is true God and true man.
With Mary guiding us, we can understand with our hearts what our eyes and minds do not manage to perceive or to contain on their own. Indeed, the incarnation is such a great gift that only through faith are we granted to accept it, while not entirely understanding it. And it is precisely on this journey of faith that Mary comes to meet us as our support and guide. “The divine motherhood would have been of no value to her had Christ not borne her in his heart, with a destiny more fortunate that the moment when she conceived him in the flesh” (De Sancta Virginitate, 3, 3). Mary is the Mother because she brought forth Jesus in the flesh; she is the mother because she adhered totally to the Father’s will. For this reason, Mary continues to treasure, to “piece together” the subsequent events of which she was a witness and participant even to the death and resurrection of her Son.
Couple days ago on the Feast of the Holy Family, we acknowledged that God gave us “the shining example of Holy Family” for us to imitate “the virtues of family life” (see the Collect for the Feast of Holy Family). We already focused on the virtue of St. Joseph, the Father of Nazareth. As we honor Mary, the Mother of God, today what is the virtue that all mothers should imitate from the Mother of Nazareth? May all mothers in our individual families follow the example of Mary: “kept all these things [what matters to God], reflecting on them in [their] hearts.” If all the mothers follow the Blessed Virgin Mary to “piece together” all the present and subsequent events in their families under the light of the Lord and teach all members of their families, especially their children, to do so, then truly humanity will receive the gift of peace, the gift of Mary’s Son, the Prince of Peace, will bring to the human family!
May we “piece together” all that God installs in this 2021. This Marian antiphon is appropriate today: Sub tuum praesidium configimus, Sancta Dei Genetrix. Nostra deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cuntis libera nos semper, Virgo gloriosa et benidicta. Amen/We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despite not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
Scriptural Readings: Reading 1NM 6:22-27 Responsorial Psalm Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 Reading 2 GAL 4:4-7 Alleluia HEB 1:1-2 Gospel LK 2:16-21