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Honoring Mary ...

Entrance Antiphon: “Hail, Holy Mother, who gave birth to the King who rules heaven and earth for ever.”

First Reading: Num 6:22-27 — “They shall invoke My name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8 — “May God bless us in His mercy.”

Second Reading: Gal 4:4-7 — “God sent His Son, born of a woman.”

Alleluia: Heb 1:1-2 — Alleluia, alleluia. “In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, He has spoken to us through His Son.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Lk 2:16-21 — “They found Mary and Joseph and the infant. When the eight days were completed, He was named Jesus.”

Communion Antiphon: Heb 13:8 — “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

January 1st marks the end of one calendar year and the beginning of another. So, too, the birth of Jesus marks the end of the reign of sin and the beginning of a new era of God’s grace. As Saint Paul explains to the Galatians in this weekend’s Second Reading, Jesus was born of a woman just as we were, and is like us in all things but sin. By adoption, we are children of God and children of our Blessed Mother.

Today’s feast, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, arises from the settling of a controversy among our early Christian ancestors. There were arguments about the divinity of Christ and the role that Mary plays in the story of salvation.

Nestorius was the patriarch of Constantinople in the 5th century. He taught that Mary was the mother only of Jesus’ humanity. Although Scripture says, in the chapter before today’s Gospel reading, nothing will be impossible for God, Nestorius did not think a mortal could bear the immortal ... a human could not bring forth the divine. Nestorius left out the wondrous works of God in his thought process, and how our God can do or achieve anything He desires, solely because He desires that it be so.

If we embrace an image of God who makes all things possible, then these things are true: 1) Mary is the Mother of Jesus, Jesus is God, and therefore as the mother of Jesus, 2) Mary is the Mother of God. To deny the holiness of Mary and her rightful place as Mother of God is to downplay the divinity and perfection of her Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Why do we honor Mary? The answer should be obvious ... because Jesus did ... and He instructed us to do the same. Jesus honored Mary’s wishes at Cana when she requested that He perform His first miracle, turning water into wine. It was there that she spoke her last words recorded in Scripture: Do whatever He tells you (cf. John 2:5).

In the Gospel today, we see how Mary and Joseph honored God the Father and God the Son in fulfilling all the duties of their religion in taking Jesus to be circumcised and giving Him His name, literally translating as “God helps.”

When the shepherds adored and praised God at the Christ Child’s manger, Mary pondered these things in her heart, marveling at the favor God had shone in choosing her above all others to be the mother of His son. As we begin this new year and we contemplate our resolutions, let us resolve to imitate Mary our mother in devotion to God the Father and God the Son. In that way, the Lord will bless us and keep us, making His face to shine upon us and giving us His peace.

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