Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
1st Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
2nd Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21
The feast of the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is a celebration of the motherhood of Jesus. Mary as Mater Dei (Mother of God in Latin) and Theotokos (God-Bearer in Greek) is considered Dogma and has been the belief since the First Council of Ephesus in the year 431. The feast celebrates Mary, but more than that, it celebrates the divinity of Jesus.
Around the 13th or 14th century, the 1st of January was celebrated as the octave day of Christmas in reference to Jesus’ circumcision and naming on the eighth day after his birth (Luke 2:21). In 1960 a reference to the circumcision was removed from the celebration and it was referred to as the “Octave of the Nativity.” There were many other feast days honoring Mary around the world (on different days) but all were combined in the 1969 revision of the liturgical year as it states, "1 January, the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, and also the commemoration of the conferral of the Most Holy Name of Jesus."
If you attended Mass During the Day on Christmas, you’ll recognize this gospel. It is a repeat of that Christmas reading with the addition of the circumcision and naming of Jesus. The Church acknowledges these two experiences to recognize that Jesus came to save the world, but He (and his parents) also followed the laws and customs of the time, another example of the combination of humanity and divinity. Just like John the Baptist, Jesus was circumcised to become part of the community. It was not an extraordinary event for a baby boy born to Jewish parents. Even his name was common. Mary followed the angel’s instructions when she named Him, but he probably wasn’t the only boy named Jesus. (The name Jesus means “the one who saves.”)
It may seem odd that we spend so much time talking about Jesus on a feast day designed to recognize His mother. The fact of the matter is that all things through Mary lead us to Jesus. It is her single mission. She is an example of perfect obedience. Mary did all of the things that were asked of her (by the angel and the law). She couldn’t have understood, but she trusted the angel’s words. No questioning, just obedience. We celebrate this day with reverence for the God of all creation, and the woman who made it possible.
1. Do I rely on outward religious practices for my faith instead of reflecting on them in my heart?
2. How will this feast of Mary, the Mother of God change the new year for me?
3. What might the world learn from a global celebration of this feast day?
4. What do I have to learn from Mary?
There is no handout for this week as the Catechumenate Session would have been on break for the Christmas holiday.