Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman (Gal 4:4)
In my learning Latin, ianus means door; and this is why January is the first month of the year. On this first day of the year, we praise God by honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary as Mother of God. The message is clear: Mary is the key which opens the door for the contemplation of the beauty on the face of Christ, the Redeemer of the human race and Mary’s Son.
Our faith proclaims that, in the incarnation of our Lord, Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:26-38 and Mt 1:18-25). Through her, Jesus Christ—second person of the Holy Trinity, one-in-being (consubstantial) with the Father, and true God from true God—entered this world, taking on human flesh and a human soul. Jesus is true God and true man. In His person are united both a divine nature and a human nature. For this reason, the Catechism of the Catholic Church no. 495 beautifully explains the proper understanding of the title, Mary, Mother of God: “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 Holy Trinity. Hence, the Church confesses that Mary is truly ‘Mother of God’ (Theotokos)”
It is important to recall the objection to the title Mary, “Mother of God” in the 5th century due to incorrect understanding of the mystery of the incarnation with Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople (428-431) as one of the leading figures. The Council of Ephesus was convened on June 22, 431 to settle this argument. The Council 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 of God made flesh), <anathema sit>.”
As we praise God by honoring Mary, Mother of God, we ask this question: what is the key to entering this door of contemplation the mystery of Christ? The key is in one passage of the Gospel proclaimed today: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). Two verbs describe how Mary contemplated the mystery of Christ: keep (syntere) and reflect (symballousa). The first verb indicates that Mary treasured and held all things. Mary’s faith in God was not “cafeteria” i.e, picking and choosing what was convenient for her. The second verb describes an active pondering as she turned around in her mind and heart the great mystery in which she was an integral participant. In order words, she discerned what was most important to God and followed God’s plan. Both verbs indicate not a brief meditation, but a continuous contemplative immersion in the events. St. Augustine put it best when he said that Our Lady “conceived him [Christ] in her heart before she conceived him in her womb” (Sermo 25:7: PL 38, 937). The key for us to be a disciple of Christ is to follow the example of Mary to keep and ponder God’s will in our heart. When we take God’s Word into our hearts, we will live God’s will in our lives. This is the key to open the path that Mary, the Mother of God, set out for us on this New Year 2020.
The first day of the New Year is also a World Day of Prayer of Peace. We pray that all people will ponder not their wills, but God’s will in their hearts. When all follow the example of Mary, her Son, the Prince of Peace, will grant each individual as well as the entire human family an experience of the Shalom that God delivered to the people through Moses:
“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! Amen.”