January 1, 2017


January 1, 2017:  Mary, Mother of God

See 14 connections with today?
Legend below
For 1st reading 
For Psalm 67
Pope Francis homily
"Mary treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart!"  Mary treasures, protects, and guards the passage of God in the life of his people.  She learned to listen to her Son's heartbeat; it taught her to discover God’s heartbeat in history.  She learned how to be a mother and gave Jesus the beautiful experience of being a Son.  In Mary, the Word both became flesh and learned to recognize God's maternal tenderness.  The God-Child learned to listen to his people's yearnings, troubles, joys, and hopes.  He discovered himself a Son of God’s faithful people.
Mary attentively guarded her Son's life and mission.  She watched over the beginnings of the Church and so learned to be the mother of many.  She sowed hope.  She accompanied the crosses borne in her children’s hearts.  She gave us a mother’s warmth, sheltering us amid troubles, advancing the revolution of tenderness her Son inaugurated.  Where there's a mother, there's tenderness.  Mary shows us humility and tenderness are virtues of the strong.  God’s people has always acknowledged her as the Holy Mother of God.  To celebrate her as Mother of God and our mother means recalling we're a people with a Mother, not orphans.
Mothers are the strongest antidote to our individualistic, egotistic tendencies, indifference, and lack of openness.  A society without mothers would lose its heart; it would be merciless, with room only for calculation and speculation.  Mothers testify to tenderness, self-sacrifice, and hope.  I've learned from mothers whose children are in prison, in the hospital, or in bondage to drugs; they don't stop fighting for what's best for them.  Mothers in refugee camps, or in the midst of war, support their children’s sufferings.  Where there's a mother, there are unity and belonging.
Recall God’s goodness in the face of Mary, the Church, and your mother, protecting us from “spiritual orphanhood.”  The soul feels orphaned when it doesn't feel God's tenderness or a sense of belonging.  This sense lodges in a heart that only looks to itself; it grows when we forget life is a gift we received and owe others.  It led Cain to ask, “Am I my brother's keeper?,” as if to say, he doesn’t belong to me.  It's a cancer that eats away at and debases the soul.  We become more debased, inasmuch as nobody belongs to us and we belong to no one.  I debase the earth because it doesn't belong to me; I debase others because they don't; I debase God because I don't belong to him, and we debase ourselves, since we forget who we are and the divine “family name” we bear.  The loss of the ties that bind us increases this sense of orphanhood, emptiness, and loneliness.  The lack of physical contact cauterizes our hearts and makes us lose the capacity for tenderness, wonder, and compassion.  Spiritual orphanhood makes us forget what it means to be children, grandchildren, parents, grandparents, friends, and believers; it makes us forget the importance of play, singing, a smile, rest, gratitude.
Celebrating the feast of the Mother of God makes us smile as we realize we're a people, we belong; only in a community, a family, can we find the “climate,” the “warmth” that enables us to grow in humanity, and not merely as objects to “consume and be consumed.”  We're not interchangeable items of merchandise or information processors.   We're children, family, God’s People.  Celebrating Mary leads us to create and care for common places that can give us a sense of belonging, rootedness, of feeling at home in communities that unite and support us.
On the cross, Jesus kept nothing for himself, also handing over to us his Mother.  "Here is your son; here are your children."  We want to receive her into our homes, families, communities, nations; we want to meet her maternal gaze, the gaze that frees us from being orphans, that reminds us we're brothers and sisters, that we belong to each other, that we're of the same flesh, that we have to care for life as tenderly as she did:  by sowing hope, by sowing belonging and of fraternity.
Celebrating today's feast reminds us we have a Mother; we're not orphans.  Let us confess this truth!
  • Nm 6:22-27  Lord to Moses:  Bless like this:  The Lord bless you, keep you, shine on you, be gracious to you, look on you kindly, and give you peace!
  • Ps 67:2-3, 5-6, 8  "May God bless us in his mercy."  May all exult and know your salvation; you rule justly and guide us.
  • Gal 4:4-7  God sent his Son to ransom those under the law, so we might receive adoption.  God sent the Spirit into our hearts, crying, “Papa!”  So you're not slaves but children and heirs.
  • Lk 2:16-21  The shepherds found Mary, Joseph, and the baby, then shared the message they were told; all were amazed.  Mary reflected on these things.   The shepherds praised God.  The child was given the name Jesus, the name the angel gave before he was conceived.
    • Creighton:  Mary's part in God's plan began with the Annunciation and continued at the foot of the cross.  Luke focuses on Mary; some speculate he knew her and grew in faith along with her.  She unselfishly loved her son and was his first disciple.  She and Joseph were the first to be invited to ponder who he really was.  Mary is our model in relating to her son, and we too can "reflect with our hearts."  Jesus encounters us as persons and a community of faith to open us to his purpose and goodness.  Open yourself to encountering Christ and being led to encounters with your true self, friends, family, the poor, those in need, the sick, the imprisoned and those who call on us to share our gifts with them. Mary clearly accepted God's plan for her and the world through her. We too are called to encounter Christ and extend that encounter with others....
    • One Bread, One Body:  "First blood":  On the eighth day of Christmas, we celebrate the feast of Mary, the Mother of God.  Jesus first shed his blood at his circumcision.  Mary would have nursed his wound, washing off his blood as he healed; this foreshadows her standing at the cross when he was crucified.  Even after he died, Mary treasured his body by cleaning off his blood.  May we in imitation of Mary devote ourselves to Jesus....
    • Passionist:  Today is the octave of Christmas, World Peace Day, the feast of Jesus' circumcision, New Year’s Day, and the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.  The Council of Ephesus declared Mary to be theotokos, 'God-bearer.'  This title wasn't primarily to praise Mary but to protect the church’s belief in the Jesus' humanity.  Jesus is truly divine and truly human; the Incarnation enables the church to acclaim Mary as “Mother of God,” because she gave birth to Jesus, the God-man.  In celebrating this feast, the Church proclaims that the Incarnation affirms something astounding about us as human beings.  All creation is sacred as a gift of God, but only the human person is made in God's image.  The human person can love, be loved, know, and understand:  qualities belonging to the divine.  In becoming flesh Jesus affirms the beauty and dignity of the human person.  Today's 1st reading speaks of God’s great love for his people.  “You are no longer to be called slaves; you are God’s children” (2nd reading) also emphasizes the sacredness of the human person.  We can address God intimately as a child addresses 'Papa,' “Abba!”.  We must remember this affirmation of human dignity, human sacredness.  Yes, people are frail and can do evil, but people do good and long for God.  Mary, Mother of God, is one of us.  Our world often devalues human life:  violence in Aleppo, gang shootings, abortion, assisted suicide, warehousing of the elderly, refugees turned away....  Mary, help us remember the dignity of each human being and our responsibility as God's children.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "He was called Jesus":  A person's name represented what they'd be in the future; it expressed their being at its deepest level.  A Jewish male child was named at his circumcision, eight days after birth; it was a sign of the God's covenant with Abraham and his posterity.  Joseph and Mary gave their son the name Jesus because of the angel's message; the name, 'the Lord saves,' signifies his identity and mission.  Jesus is both God and man, so Mary is called both mother of the Christ ('Messiah') and mother of God (Theotokos, 'God bearer').  The name Jesus signifies that God's name is present in his Son.  Peter exclaimed no other name can save us.  In Jesus' name, exalted above every other, demons flee, cripples walk, the blind see, the deaf hear, and the dead are raised.  Jesus' name is at the heart of Christian prayer; we pray through him to the Father in the power of the Spirit.  May we exalt Jesus' name and pray with confidence in his name.
      Dress legend
      • 'Clocks' suspenders:  When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son (2nd reading); New Year
      • 'Dove' pin:  God sent us the Spirit crying out, “Abba, Father!” (2nd reading)
      • 'Sheep' tie bar:  The shepherds rushed to Bethlehem... (gospel)
      • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace! (1st reading); World Day of Peace
      • 'Mary' pin:  Mary, Mother of God
      • White shirt:  Today's liturgical color
      • 'Heart' pin:  Mary reflected on these things in her heart (gospel)
      • 'Happy birthday, Jesus' and 'angel' pins:  After 8 days, he was named Jesus, the name the angel gave him (gospel); Christmas season
      • 'Streamers' tie:  Happy new year!

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