Happy New Year! Happy Feast of Mary, Mother of God!
First of all, I wish you a Blessed and prosperous New Year 2023! On New Year’s Day, we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Gospel and second reading are more closely related to Mary. The first reading from the book of Numbers is a famous passage in the Jewish tradition. It’s the traditional high priestly blessing. It is a very common blessing in Jewish circles. Let us bless each other as we embrace the New 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!
It is an excellent opportunity to begin the New Year by reflecting on the Mother of God and our mother. After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI transferred the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God— which used to be from October to January 1st. Prior to the Vatican council, the feast of the Holy Name was celebrated on January 1st. Holy Name was removed from the calendar after Vatican II and St. John Paul II restored it to January 3rd. January 1st we pray for World Peace. To ensure peace in the world, we have to be like Mary, "Hear the Word of God and treasure it." To be the Mother of God is to be a carrier of the Prince of Peace.
When a child is born a mother is born. When a child is born, its mother begins to be a mother. Even if she was already a mother to other children this new child makes her a new mother; a new chapter in her mothering begins. In the birth of the Son of God, Mary begins her role as Mother of God.
In the Gospel of Luke 1:43, when Mary visited, Elizabeth says, “And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Mother of the Lord, reveals two mysteries, the divinity of Christ and Mary’s divine maternity. In A.D. 431, the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus defined Mary’s unique relationship to Christ and honored her with the title, “Mother of God.” In 1964, Vatican II, (Lumen Gentium, 53), reaffirmed this dogma. This is the first Marian dogma expounded by the Church.
The Gospel passage for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is from Luke 2:16-21. Luke was not an Apostle and never knew Jesus, but he was a traveling companion of St. Paul. Luke tells us that he has talked to all the key eyewitnesses of Jesus’ life (Luke 1:1-2). Luke gives us a detailed version of the birth of Jesus. He tells us of the visits of the Archangel Gabriel both to Zechariah and to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Luke gives us a precise recounting of the birth of Jesus: the Roman census, the journey to Bethlehem, the visit of the shepherds—even the intimate moment of the child being wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. He also tells of Jesus’ circumcision as an infant and the finding in the temple at the age of 12. We note in today’s Gospel passage that “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 1:19). Luke’s insight sight suggests that Mary is either a direct or indirect source of information. Many saints and theologians throughout the centuries have believed that St. Luke consulted with the Blessed Virgin in the writing of his gospel. At the end of the Gospel passage, you might have noticed that it says, “At the end of eight days he was circumcised and given the name Jesus” (Luke 2:21). January 1st is the eighth day after Christmas.
The second reading ties to the Gospel passage, which emphasizes Mary’s role in the birth of Jesus (“born of a woman” Galatians 4:4). We see in the Gospel and the second reading that followed the law which shows the solidarity with God’s covenant people.
We honor Mary, respect her, love her and seek her intercession, praying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners." We honor her primarily because God honored her by choosing her to become the mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity when He took on our flesh. I pray that the Lord Jesus and his Mother Mary may enrich your lives during the New Year 2023 with an abundance of God’s blessings.
THANK YOU! I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who made Christmas beautiful in our cluster by donating flowers, trees, wreaths, and so on, sharing your time and talents to decorate, and all other ministers: music, greeters/ushers, servers, Eucharisic ministers, and all those who coordinated and participated in the children’s program . A special thanks to our children and youth. The list goes on...All three parishes were well prepared. Thank you! Also my gratitude to all those who sent cards, gifts, and goodies. It is much appreciated. Thank you! Fr. Shaji