Mary, the Holy Mother of God
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
January 1, 2019
As we gather here today to celebrate a holy day, it is January 1st. In our country it is New Year’s Day. However, the fact that we are beginning a new year on the secular calendar is not what our holy day is for.
Our holy day today is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. It just happens to fall on January 1st. There are countries in Asia that celebrate their secular new year at a different time but all Catholics celebrate this solemnity today.
One week ago we celebrated Christmas Day. Our Christmas season will continue till we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord.
During our Christmas season we celebrate multiple feasts and solemnities. This past weekend we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. Next week we will celebrate the Epiphany. Christmas will end with our celebration of the Baptism of the Lord the following weekend.
As part of our Christmas season, we celebrate this solemnity of Mary today to honor her for her role as mother of Jesus. It is celebrated today, eight days following his birth, in recognition that in her role as a faithful Jewish mother, in accord with Jewish custom, she saw that Jesus was circumcised on his eighth day.
We call Mary the Mother of God. Last year, I spoke about how there was great debate in the early church whether to call her “Mother of Christ” or “Mother of God.” We call her “Mother of God” to recognize that Jesus was both human and divine. In his divinity, he is consubstantial with the Father.
Today, I would like to look at Mary as mother of the human side of Jesus.
What did Mary do as Jesus’ mother? It started in her giving birth to Jesus. However, this alone is not all she did as his mother. After all, families adopt children. In those families, mom is still very much the mother even though she did not give birth to her child. The same can also be true for some step-mothers.
A mother is one who cares for her children. A mother is one who is there for her children in the good times but also in their struggles. A mother is one who loves her children.
As Jesus’ mother, Mary saw that he was raised to follow all the Jewish customs. She was an example of what it means to be a disciple. Here is we also see Mary as our mother, just as she was for Jesus, she is the model disciple for what it means to be Christian.
Mary would have done whatever she could for Jesus. When there was nothing physical she could do as at the foot of the Cross, she was present there and prayed. As our mother, Mary intercedes for us.
Mary was also an example to Jesus, and still is for us, of what it means to be a person of prayer and reflection. We see in it our gospel today when she listens to what the shepherds say when it says, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”
We are to be people who pray and reflect. Here, I return to what I said at the beginning. Today is New Year’s Day on our secular calendar. People will make new year’s resolutions. Some might even keep their new year’s resolutions.
New Year’s is not a religious occasion but we can use it as time to think about what it means to be a good Christian disciple. Ask yourself what blessings you received in 2018. Have you given thanks to God for those blessings?
What sufferings did you face in 2018? How was God present for you in those sufferings? If those sufferings are going to continue into 2019, how might you seek God’s help and presence in the sufferings? What would you like to improve in 2019?
Ask God to help you reflect on this. For example, you could simply resolve to lose weight or you could ask God with Mary’s intercession to help you take better care of the body that he has given you.
May Mary intercede for us as our mother and God bless us all as we begin 2019.