Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
January 1, 2018
January 1st is associated with various things. In our secular society, it is the beginning of the new calendar year. The beginning of a “new” year is seen as an opportunity to make changes with the hope of improving our lives. In this context, we call them New Year’s Resolutions.
Whenever we try to improve our lives, we should turn to God for guidance on what improvements we need to make and for God’s blessing upon us as we strive to become what Christ calls us to be.
In this context of seeking God’s blessing, our first reading is an offering of God’s blessing to the Israelites through Moses. In the psalm today we ask God to “bless us in his mercy.”
However, the fact that today is New Year’s Day is not the reason that today is a holy day.
Today marks the eighth day of Christmas. According to Jewish custom, this was the day that the Jewish males would be circumcised and given their name. Of course, as good Jewish parents, Mary and Joseph followed this custom with Jesus.
So, today we honor Mary for her role as Jesus’ mother. We celebrate this day as the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.
Our second reading today tells us, “When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” Jesus become flesh, born of the woman we know as Mary. Scripture is clear that Mary is the mother of Jesus.
Yet, today’s feast does not refer to Mary as “Mother of Jesus” but “Mother of God.” How could Mary, a human being herself, give birth to God who is eternal, without a beginning?
We need to understand that calling Mary “Mother of God” rather than “Mother of Jesus” is not about her status. It’s about Jesus.
In the early church there was much debate about the human and divine natures of Jesus. Speaking in merely human terms, we cannot understand how Jesus could be both human and divine but that is our faith, given to us through the Holy Spirit. From this, Mary was given the title of “Mother of God” to remind us that Jesus is both human and divine.
We may not understand the two natures but we accept it in faith. Mary herself did not understand all that was said of her son Jesus but she believed. As the shepherds told her what the angel had said to them, she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
One of Mary’s other titles is “Queen of Peace.” Mary was a thoughtful woman, reflecting on all that she heard. Recognizing Mary in this way, January 1st in our Church is a World Day of Prayer for Peace.
When we think of praying for “peace,” the first thing that comes to mind might be peace in the sense of the absence of war and violence. Indeed, we must pray for this type of peace but when we proclaim today as a World Day of Prayer for Peace, we need to go deeper.
It is not simply about ending our wars but looking for peace in our hearts that is freedom in our hearts from the things that can lead to war, greed, desire for power, and injustice.
Greed and desire for power can lead us to sins that build up our own earthly wealth and power at the expense of others. Some wars start when someone or some group chooses to use military power to take what does not belong to them.
Injustice, meaning everyone not receiving their fair share, can also lead to wars and violence, because people who do not have enough come to think they must fight just to have enough. We might feel far removed causing such injustice but it can begin with us simply consuming more than we need, leaving others without enough.
So, what might you change in your lives to become more peaceful and thoughtful in your lives?