1 Jan – Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God
The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God is celebrated on Jan 1, the Octave Day of Christmas (i.e. 8th day after Christmas). It is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek term ‘theotokos’, the God-bearer.
The term ‘theotokos’ was adopted at the Council of Ephesus as a way to assert the divinity of Christ, from which it follows that what is declared of Christ is declared of God. So, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, she is the Mother of God. Therefore, the title ‘Mother of God’ and the ‘Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God’, which celebrates her under this title, are at once Mariological and Christological.
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.’
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 us 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 any more; and if God has made you son, then he has made you heir.
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 shepherds 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.
‘As for Mary, she treasured all these things in and pondered them in her heart.’
There is an ancient advent prayer called the Christmas Anticipation Prayer and it goes like this,
“Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born Of the most pure Virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in the piercing cold. In that hour vouchsafe, I beseech Thee, O my God, to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of Our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His blessed Mother. Amen.”
What strikes me is where it says “in the piercing cold”. They had been travelling a long distance already, while heavily pregnant and it got me pondering how we can get caught up in the beauty and majesty and wonder of the incarnation, and rightly so, but we should also reserve some time to remember Mary’s role in all of this. And in this special role she played, she suffered greatly.
Simeon said at Jesus’ presentation in the temple that a spear shall also pierce her heart and she suffered many agonies when Jesus was undergoing his passion; which brings us back to the 9 months of labour. I know first-hand how difficult and painful it can be for a mother when morning sickness kicks in, when clothes don’t fit, when feet become swollen and when your back starts aching. Worst of all, when Mary watched and suffered in silence when her son, the Saviour of the world was beaten nearly to death and then hung for all to see until he breathed his last.
For a long time, I wasn’t quite sure of Mary’s role in my own life, until I undertook a 54-day Novena and really struggled through meditating upon Jesus’ life during those 54 days. At some point during the 54 days, I fell deeply in love with the Rosary and consequently with The Blessed Virgin. Some time later, my wife and I undertook the ‘33 Days to Morning Glory’ retreat and Mary’s role in salvation, and in my own life, became so much clearer and concrete.
When Jesus was on the cross, he gave Mary to all of us when he said to the beloved apostle to take her as his mother and in the year 431, the Council of Ephesus declared that Mary is the Theotokos or God-bearer; Mother of God.
She suffered greatly for us, and she still does. She has taken us into her heart as her children, and just as children very often do not give due credit to their mothers, so do we sometimes. The Memorare has become very close to me as I seek her maternal care and providence in my life and I pray that you too, may discover that Mary, Mother of God is also our mother in the order of grace; and she will indeed care for us as a mother does, maybe that is why it is often said that mothers know best.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Daryl De Payva)
Prayer: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence I fly unto thee O Virgin of Virgins, my mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the word incarnate, despise not my petitions but in your mercy hear and answer me, Amen.
Thanksgiving: Lord, we thank you for giving us a human example or grace and humility to emulate and for giving her to us as a mother to intercede and to pour out graces upon us according to your will. Help us to love her as you did so that we may come to you, through her.