Here is my Homily for today’s celebration of the Solemnity of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you that this New Year may be filled with many graces and blessings, all of which flow from Jesus Christ.
Today, the Church celebrates the Motherhood of Mary. We celebrate today what the Angel Gabriel told Mary at the annunciation, that ‘nothing is impossible for God.’ We celebrate the mysterious power and love of God that would allow a virgin to conceive the Son of God. We celebrate the mystery that God actually becomes man in the person of Jesus through the Motherhood of the Virgin Mary. We celebrate that Mary’s free cooperation with God to become the Mother of God, our human nature is restored. These mysteries continue to have great significance and consequence for us.
Let us begin by looking at the blessing given by God to Moses in the first reading. (Numbers 6:22-27) This blessing is fulfilled ‘in the flesh’ through the Motherhood of Mary, in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, humanity receives its greatest blessing. Mary’s giving birth to Jesus allows us to see the face of God shine upon us in the person of Jesus and receive the fullness of God’s graciousness, love and mercy. In and through Jesus’ presence in the world, God has looked upon us in his kindness and given us his peace. The birth of Jesus not only ushers in the Kingdom of God; Jesus is the Kingdom in all its fullness.
Through the Virgin Mary, God became man, and his name is Jesus. Jesus maintaining his divinity takes on our human nature. Mary did not receive the Lord into her womb as something foreign to her; foreign to human nature. Rather, as the angel Gabriel proclaimed to her: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. (Luke 1:31) “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35) Jesus, maintaining his divinity ‘became flesh’ (John 1:14) and took upon himself our very human nature, as a descendent of Adam, a descendent of Abraham, a descendent of the New Eve, Mary.
A great significance of the Motherhood of Mary that we celebrate today is that as God takes our human nature to himself, our human nature is renewed. Mary’s Motherhood is the means by which God restores human nature to the Divine Image. In the person of Jesus, God restores harmony to all of creation. The teaching and significance of this event is that even today, we are to find our order and harmony in the person of Jesus. Our highest calling is found in our relationship with Christ, and in our free decision to purposely and intentionally follow and serve Jesus.
Our Opening Prayer today tells of this great work of God, that “through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary, [God] bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation…and we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Our second reading today helps us understand the consequences stemming from the Motherhood of Mary. “In the fullness of time, God sent his son…to ransom us…that we might receive adoption as sons.” (Galatians 4:4-5) Through the Virgin Mary, Jesus comes to us, sharing our human nature, existence and experience. His complete sharing in our humanity is the means by which he is able to redeem us, freeing us from sin, and thus restoring us to our rightful place in God’s family; renewing us as children of God.
The Letter to the Hebrews instructs us: In times past, God spoke in partial and various ways to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he spoke to us through a son, whom he made heir of all things and through whom he created the universe. Hebrews (1:1-2)
It is now incumbent upon us to acknowledge this great work of God! As our Psalm today says: “May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you! May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Psalm 67)
This Year of Faith calls each of us to better understand our faith so that we may live it freely and fully. We have received a tremendous gift in the person of Jesus. Let us not squander this renewed life!
As we enter a new year, let us resolve to live each day intentionally with Christ, in Christ, and for Christ. Let us resolve to spend time with Christ in prayer each day. Let us resolve to live as one created and renewed in the Image of God and to treat every other person with the same understanding and respect. Let us promise to speak to others about Jesus because we believe He is my life and my all. Let us promise to prayerfully discover the particular gifts God has given me through Christ to further His Kingdom. Let us promise to use these gifts for the good of our neighbors and the good of our Church. Let us recognize that Christ left us his Church and the sacraments as the greatest means possible to continue to grow in his image, love and likeness. Let us promise to make Sunday Mass the moment of each week that nourishes and defines our life and our work. Let us resolve that we shall not restrict Christ to our private lives, but give him freedom to act in every moment and action of our lives. Let us resolve to be active disciples of Jesus Christ. Let us be realistic that to be a disciple of Jesus will lead to the cross. Let us always live in the faith that from the cross comes true life and the blessings that are ours in the Risen Christ. Let us resolve to allow Christ to work through me and you, as He does through Mary, Mother of God and Mother of the Church.