January 1: Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, The Mother of God (Theotokos)ABC- Homily Fr. Michael Udoekpo
Readings: Num 6:22-27; Ps 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Gal 4:4-7 and Luke 2:16-21
Dear friends in Christ,
On January 1st of every year the Church celebrates the Solemnity of The Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother. This is more so, when we put up all the facts and the truth of the scriptures together, the role of Mary in our salvation history. Her role in bringing God closer to us- the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). Her role in giving birth to the Lamb of God, the humble Savior and the Light of the world, who comes to destroy the power of darkness and sins, to liberate and restore (Zeph 3) those bugged down by all forms of captivity (Isa 61: 1ff; Luke 4: 18ff). Mary is the Mother of God when we look back on the Christmas stories narrated in the Gospels especially those stories we shared from the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke’s Gospel and of John.
We recall the annunciation and the salutation of the Angel to Mary. Hail full of Grace! , favored one,= kecaritwme,nh (Lk 1:28), the Lord is with you, Blessed are you amongst women and Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus! Ave, o Maria, piena di grazia, il Signore è il frutto del tuo seno, Gesù. Santa Maria, Madre di Dio, prega per noi peccatori, adesso e nell’ora della nostra morte. Amen.
She is the Mother of God, because with the Grace of God, Mary was able to say “ I am the Handmaid of the Lord be it done to me according to your Word” (Fiat- Lk 1:38). She was not afraid to say Yes , and to be opened up to the will of God. She together with Joseph lived the vocation of an ideal parent, preventing Jesus not only from the cold winter in Bethlehem but also from the onslaught of Herod. They opened their doors for the humble poor shepherd (Lk 2:16-21) and for the rich and educated foreign scientists-Magi (Matt 2: 13-23), as if she was teaching Jesus universalism and inclusiveness of the poor, the rich, repentant sinners and saints in the Kingdom he would preach. Mary kept most of the mysteries of the birth and life of Christ, reflecting them peaceful in her hearts, offering them to God, including all that Simeon and Anna had said about Jesus, who would be source of joy and sorrows for many, a sign of contradiction.
Mary and Joseph anxiously searched for Jesus in the Temple and at home taught him the human and divine values and virtues that would later reflect in the Ministry of Jesus the Prince of Peace, long foretold by the prophets (Isa 9). Mary is the Mother of Peace; she gave birth to the Prince of Peace. Mary is our mother too. St. Paul affirms this in the Second Reading, Galatians 4:4-7 that,
“When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law so that we might receive adoption as sons (and daughters).
I remember growing up, this day was usually being offered or remembered as a day we pray for peace in the world. Even though so much is going in the CNN, the Fox and other media outlets, It is also a day we count all the blessings that God has blessed us with in the old years. We do make New Year resolutions as well, sometimes to make up the weaknesses of the old year. Whoever we work with today, live with or meet on the way, or speak with on the telephone including the notes and mails we send out electronically, we usually say, “Happy New Year!”
I guess by this we mean, a year free from ill fortunes, sicknesses, and pains. A year free from unnecessary misunderstandings troubles and worries. A year of peace and prosperity and happiness.
These are the good wishes we wish one another. They are evident even in today’s first reading, the priestly blessings in the book of Numbers 6:24-26. “The Lord said to Moses: “speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall bless the Israelites: Say to them, 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!”
What a powerful New Year best wishes to all of us- the face of God shining upon all us in the New Year. It means, God smiling at us in the New Year. And the ~wlv ($l ~fyw = the giving of peace here in Hebrew definitely implies prosperity and happiness for each and every one of us in the New Year.
But we know that as Christians life is full of ups and downs. Even when we are down, let us realize that we can always turn our temporary defeat into a lasting victory. We can always turn our temporary “downs” into a lasting “ups.” A good year for a Christian like Mary and Joseph is such which both happiness and sorrows have helped him or her to love God more and more.
Let us ask Mary the Mother of God, Mother of the Church and of all of us to intercede for us so that we may be blessed in this New Year, with peace, love of God, perseverance, happiness and joy and the grace to walk with God to always live with and for one another.
Peace and Happy New Year to you all!