Daily Archives: December 31, 2007

Tuesday, January 1 – Theokotos

01 Jan – Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; World Day of Prayer for Peace

Mary, Through Whom The World Would Be Blessed

We too bless God for Mary, who bore for us the Child she named Jesus the Saviour.

– the Sunday Missal

The title “Mother of God” for Our Lady was first used by St. Elizabeth at the Visitation, “Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” (Luke 1:43). The title is found in early liturgical prayers, according to St. Cyril (5th century), and this term Theotokos (bearing God) was perfectly familiar to the ancient fathers. It was employed by St. Ignatius of Antioch (c. 90) and St. Anthanasius (c. 373), and finally sanctioned at the Council of Ephesus (431).

– Patron Saint Index
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Numbers 6:22-27

The Lord spoke to Moses and said, “Say this to Aaron and his sons: ‘This is how you are to bless the sons of Israel. You shall say to them:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May the Lord let his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord uncover his face to you and bring you peace.’

This is how they are to call down my name on the sons of Israel, and I will bless them.”
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Galatians 4:4-7

When the appointed time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born a subject of the Law, to redeem the subjects of the Law and to enable them to be adopted as sons. The proof that you are sons is that God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit that cries, “Abba, Father”, and it is this that makes you a son, you are not a slave anymore; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.”
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Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger. When they saw the child they repeated what they had been told about him, and everyone who heard it was astonished at what the shepherd had to say. As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart. And the shepherds went back glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen; it was exactly as they had been told.

When the eighth day came and the child was to be circumcised, they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.
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Moses was a man who was blessed with many opportunities to see God face-to-face. He frequently conversed with the Lord in His presence on Mt Sinai at a time when seeing God face-to-face meant death for those who saw Him. This golden opportunity to see the face of God and live was not to be kept to Moses alone, but to be shared among all of God’s people, which is why the Lord gave Moses the blessing to be given to His people.

Indeed God did uncover His face when He became Man. He was born of Mary and became Man. Mary was thus the representative of all humankind, to be the first human to receive the Lord and bring Him into the world, to be the first of God’s people to see God’s human face.

Today, on the first day of the new year 2008, we honour Mary, the Mother of God. The reason we celebrate this solemnity on the eighth day of Christmas is because the title “Mother of God” strikes at the very heart of Christmas – God-is-with-us. He is so with us that the divine Word cannot be divided from our humanity.

No Christian can deny that Mary is the Mother of God unless he also denies that Jesus is God, for Jesus is both man and God. To say that Mary is not the Mother of God is to say that Jesus is not God, and that Jesus never united Himself completely with our humanity. Since we are brothers and sisters with Jesus through our shared humanity, Mary is our Mother as well, though not in the “Theokotos” sense.

The term “Theokotos” which is usually translated to “Mother of God” does not mean that Mary is the Mother of God the Father. It explicitly refers to physical childbearing. The term “Mother of God” may mean a family relationship, but not one that is physical. The Greek term “Theokotos”, however, makes it clear that this relationship between Mary and Jesus is that Mary physically gave birth to Jesus, that is, she is Jesus’ biological mother.

It is a pity that many of us have a personal relationship with Jesus, but do not have one with Mary. Besides Jesus himself, there is no other human that is placed as high in esteem and power as Mary, for Jesus received her into Heaven at the moment of her death, and crowned her the Queen of Heaven, and the Queen of Angels. Just as the Lord has power over the angels who serve Him, so too does Mary command the angels. All through her life she did everything according to the Lord’s will, and now in Heaven, she continues to do so.

It would be most wonderful for us if we could establish a relationship with Mary, even though she is not our biological mother. The reason is not so much because Mary is the Queen of Heaven and the Queen of the Angels, but because Mary is so close to Jesus that their hearts and wills are one. If we could learn to become like Mary, who is fully human, we could be as close to Jesus as well so much so that we truly become another Christ in the world.

Let us pause a few moments and ponder on the significance of our understanding of Mary, the Mother of God and what this has to do with the message of Christmas.
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Prayer:
Dear Mary, we pray that all Christians may come to accept you as truly the Mother of God, and that Jesus is true God and true Man. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: St. Cyril, who in 431 at the Council of Ephesus, met Nestorius’ claim that Mary is not the mother of God.

Upcoming Readings:
Wed, 02 Jan – 1 John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28; Memorial for Sts. Basil the Great and Nazianzen, bishops, doctors
Thu, 03 Jan – 1 John 2:29 – 3:6; John 1:29-34; Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus
Fri, 04 Jan – 1 John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42
Sat, 05 Jan – 1 John 3:11-21; John 1:43-51
Sun, 06 Jan – Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12; Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

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Monday, December 31 – “To Do” List

31 Dec – Seventh Day in the Octave of Christmas; Memorial for St. Sylvester I, pope

Sylvester (d. 335) was pope in the reign of Emperor Constantine I, who built the Lateran and other churches. He sent legates to the First Council of Nicaea, and was involved in the controversy over Arianism. The spurious Donation of Constantine was supposedly given to St. Sylvester.

– Patron Saint Index
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1 John 2:18-21

Children, these are the last days;
you were told that an Antichrist must come,
and now several antichrists have already appeared;
we know from this that these are the last days.
Those rivals of Christ came out of your own number, but they had never really belonged;
if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us;
but they left us, to prove that not one of them
ever belonged to us.
But you have been anointed by the Holy One,
and have all received the knowledge.
It is not because you do not know the truth that I am writing to you
but rather because you know it already
and know that no lie can come from the truth.

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John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word:
the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through him all things came to be,
not one thing had its being but through him.
All that came to be had life in him
and that life was the light of men,
a light that shines in the dark,
a light that darkness could not overpower.
A man came, sent by God.
His name was John.
He came as a witness,
as a witness to speak for the light,
so that everyone might believe through him.
He was not the light,
only a witness to speak for the light.

The Word was the true light
that enlightens all men;
and he was coming into the world.
He was in the world
that had its being through him.
He came to his own domain
and his own people did not accept him.
But to all who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to all who believe in the name of him
who was born not out of human stock
or urge of the flesh
or will of man
but of God himself.
The Word was made flesh,
he lived among us,
and we saw his glory,
the glory that is his as the only Son of the Father,
full of grace and truth.

John appears as his witness. He proclaims:
“This is the one of whom I said:
He who comes after me
ranks before me
because he existed before me.”

Indeed, from his fullness we have, all of us, received –
yes, grace in return for grace,
since, though the Law was given through Moses,
grace and truth have come through Jesus Christ.
No one has ever seen God;
it is the only Son, who is nearest to the Father’s heart,
who has made him known.

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Have you ever set out to do some work on the computer, but got distracted by something you came across on the Internet, or visited some link sent by a friend, and continued exploring the Internet. And at the end of the day when you look back, you realized that you wasted a lot of your time which could have been better used to do work? I have found that one way to avoid this kind of thing is to have a “To Do” list set in front of me, that I can frequently refer to and keep me focused on what I have to do.

When I read the first reading today, and came across the word ‘antichrist’, I found that I didn’t really read the rest of the reading, and was distracted by that word. But that is what the antichrist does – it distracts us from the Christ, who is the truth.

Today is the seventh day in the octave of Christmas. How many of us have already been distracted from the Christ? Some of us are enjoying the Christmas presents that we have received, and some of us are drawn to preparations for celebrating the New Year. Christ is born, that’s good and well, but life goes on for us, and Christ is left in the manger, forgotten.

My friends, we are living in the last days, and the antichrists are all around us, carrying out their mission of distracting us from the Christ. Today’s gospel reading is a timely reminder for us, as we prepare to welcome the new year. It is a reminder for us that Jesus has come into the world and is living among us. Jesus is a light among the darkness, and we who have been baptized into His Body are also lights among the darkness. Just as John was a witness to speak for the light, we too are witnesses to speak for the light.

On the practical side, one thing that we can do is to have a kind of spiritual “To Do” list as well, one that we refer to frequently, and one that we can look at and check off the things that we have done. While the spiritual life is not to be characterized by activity, it is also important to be able to look back and see how far we have come, because as humans, we are bound by time – we need to see change happening in our lives.

Let us spend some time today reflecting on how the past year has been for us, especially in terms of spiritual growth. Let us also spend some time preparing our “To Do” list for next year, listing out the growth and achievements we hope to achieve in 2008.
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Prayer:
Dear Lord, we pray that as this year comes to a close, we might have the benefit of hindsight to see how we have grown and to give thanks to You for all that You’ve done for us this year. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: 2007.

Upcoming Readings:
Tue, 01 Jan – Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21; Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God; World Day of Prayer for Peace
Wed, 02 Jan – 1 John 2:22-28; John 1:19-28; Memorial for Sts. Basil the Great and Nazianzen, bishops, doctors
Thu, 03 Jan – 1 John 2:29 – 3:6; John 1:29-34; Memorial of the Holy Name of Jesus
Fri, 04 Jan – 1 John 3:7-10; John 1:35-42
Sat, 05 Jan – 1 John 3:11-21; John 1:43-51
Sun, 06 Jan – Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12; Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord

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