Homily (Reflection) for the Octave of Christmas: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (A, B, C) (1st January)
Num 6:22-27;Ps 66:2-126.96.36.199 (R. v. 2)
As we step into 2017, there is need to appraise the year 2016 to see to what extent one was able to actualize his/her dreams (resolutions) among other things. Are there reasons to thank God for? Bearing in mind the problems we face in the world, where do we run to because our leaders seem to be more confused than the people they lead?
Topic: New Year with Mary, Mother of God.
The title of the solemnity we celebrate was declared as an article of faith in 431AD by the Council of Ephesus and is among the titles of Mary that have generated so much controversy. I do not intend to go into the controversy in this homily. But suffice it to say that unless one doubts the divinity of Christ, one cannot doubt the divine maternity of Mary. If Jesus Christ is God and Mary is the mother of Jesus, we cannot but conclude that Mary is mother of God. Hence, she is rightly called the theotokos meaning God’s bearer that was first expressed in the bible by Saint Elizabeth in these words: “And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? (Lk 1:43). The first letter of Saint John reads: “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1Jn 4:2). No one who denies the divine maternity of Mary can be said to be truly a Christian because it is another way of denying that Jesus is God.
Being all-powerful and all-knowing, God could have saved us without the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Yet out of limitless options, the Word took fresh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary to live among us, cf. Jn 1:14. This, he planned from the time of our first parents, cf. Gen. 3:15 and was fulfilled at the appropriate time, cf. Gal 4:4.
The sin of Adam and Eve destroyed the relationship with God that man was enjoying and as a result was thrown out of the presence of God who is light, cf. 1Jn 1:5. And the world remained in darkness until the coming of Jesus Christ, the light of the world, cf. Jn 8:12. Jesus took flesh “to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Lk 1:79, cf. Is 9:2).
The situation of the world today no doubt is both precarious and confusing one. We need God who is both the light and the source of light. It will be good if we step into the New Year with Mary, the Mother of God who is God’s best channel. Let us call unto her for peace and security in the whole world.
Today’s gospel reads: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.” Lk 2:20. If we turn to God through Mary with sincere hearts, like the shepherds, we will have every cause to glorify and praise God for what He has done and for all He will do in the world through Mary. She is the mother of God. The world really needs her maternal protection. Borrowing some words from the Blessed Apostle: “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ” (Col 2:8). Jesus Christ is God and we know that God cannot contradict Himself, cf. Ps 31:5, 1Cor 1:9, 2Cor 1:18. God who asks us to honour our parents, (cf. Ex 20:12; Deut 5:16; Matt 15:4; Matt 19:19; Mk 7:10) will not despise His own mother. Hence despite the fact that His time had not reached, He obeyed her at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, cf. Jn 2:1-12. Again, when they found him in the temple, “... he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51).
Stepping into New Year normally goes with setting of goals or targets for the year. Although for some, it is useless to do so. But it is a good thing to make resolutions because anyone without aim is aimless and anyone who does not plan how to succeed plans how to fail. Some of us however have the problem of setting unworkable goals. Let us follow the example of Mary while making the New Year resolutions. “… Mary … pondered them in her heart.” Lk. 2: 19, cf. Lk. 2: 51. Ponder on the goal/goals you are setting for yourself. Again, do not set too many of them; the fewer, the better. Finally, take pains and write them down. Keep it where you will be seeing it from time to time. It will help you to know how you move.
Bible Reading: Gen. 3: 1-15; Gal. 4:4-7; Jn 1:1-34; 2:1-12; 1Jn 4:1-21.
Silent Prayer: Plan the year 2017 with God following the example of Mary.
Let us humbly call on Mary: The Memorare:
Remember O most gracious Virgin Mary,
that never was it known,
that anyone who fled to thy protection,
implored thy aid or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence,
I fly unto thee O Virgin of virgins, my mother,
to thee I come, before thee I stand,
sinful and sorrowful, O mother of the Word incarnate,
despise not my petitions but in thy mercy, hear and answer me. Amen.
May the newborn King through the intercession of His mother and our mother (cf. Jn 19:26-27), Blessed Virgin Mary, bless the year 2017 and the rest of our days for us + AMEN!
Wishing you grace-filled New Year
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