Sunday Readings and Reflections

 Sandro Botticelli – The Virgin and Child (The Madonna of the Book)

Sunday, January 1 
Mary, Mother of God – Solemnity 

Roman Ordinary calendar

Book of Numbers 6,22-27.

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! 
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.” 

Psalms 67(66),2-

May God have pity on us and bless us; 
may he let his face shine upon us. 
So may your way be known upon earth; 
among all nations, your salvation. 

May the nations be glad and exult 
because you rule the peoples in equity; 
the nations on the earth you guide. 

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! 

Letter to the Galatians 4,4-7.

Brothers and sisters: 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 proof that you are children, God sent the spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 
So you are no longer a slave but a child, and if a child then also an heir, through God. 

Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Saint Luke 2,16-21.

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. 
When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. 
All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. 
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. 
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them. 
When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. 

The Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is a feast day of the Blessed Virgin Mary under the aspect of her motherhood of Jesus Christ, whom Christians see as the Lord, Son of God. It is celebrated by the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church on 1 January, the Octave (8th) day of Christmastide.

Traditional Belief:

This is a very ancient feast, which used to be celebrated on October 11th. Today’s feast answers the question, “Why do Catholics honor Mary?” Non-Christians sometimes believe that we Catholics worship Mary as a goddess who gave birth to our God. Non-Catholic Christians argue that there is no Biblical basis for honoring Mary and that Catholics worship her and make her equal to God. They fail to understand why we honor Mary and name Churches and institutions after her. They do not understand what we mean by calling her the Mother of God. The truth is that we Catholics do not worship Mary as we worship, adore, God. We honor her, respect her, love her and seek her intercession, praying, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.” We do not, ever, equate her with God nor replace God with her. Rather, we honor her, primarily because God honored her by choosing her to become the Mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, when He took on our flesh and became Man.

Biblical Basis:

We learn the great truth that Mary is the Mother of God from St. Luke’s Gospel, in the message given by the angel to Mary: “You are going to be the mother of a Son and you will call Him Jesus, and He will be called the Son of the Most High.” Once she said yes, the Holy Spirit created in her womb the human nature that God the Son would assume. Since motherhood is of the person and not of the nature alone, and since Mary is the mother of Jesus, true God and true Man, then she is rightly called the Mother of God. After the angel had appeared to her and told her that she would be the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth. At Mary’s greeting Elizabeth said, “Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me?” [Lk 1:43].

The Holy Scriptures teach us that Jesus was both God and man. John writes: “The Word became flesh and lived among us” [Jn 1:14]. St. Paul refers to this event when he writes to the Galatians, “God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,” and as, “eternally begotten of the Father.” So Bible teaches that Mary was the mother of the God-Man Jesus, not in the sense that she gave birth to Jesus as God, but in the sense that the Baby she bore had the nature of God and the nature of Man.

The Doctrine of the Church:

Based on these references in the New Testament and on the traditional belief of the early Church, the Council of Ephesus affirmed in AD 431 that Mary was truly the Mother of God (Theotokos), because “according to the flesh” she gave birth to Jesus, Who was truly God as well as truly man from the first moment of His conception by Mary.

The Council defined Mary as the Mother of God both to honor her and to safeguard the dogma that Jesus Christ is not just truly God but also truly man. The Nestorians – followers of Nestorius, the 5th-century archbishop of Constantinople – taught that Christ was two in one: the man Jesus and the Divine Son of God. This view was condemned at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), which insisted that Jesus is one Person with two natures, Divine and human. The most emphatic way they could say this was to affirm that Mary was not just the mother of the man Jesus, but that she was the mother of God. This was to say that Christ was one person, not two. The word used was Theotokos (Greek for “God-bearer”). The Council of Chalcedon (451 AD), continued the use of this term, and it has become orthodox Christian teaching. Note that it is more a statement about Christ than about Mary – or rather, equally so. Icons of the Theotokos are common now in the West.

Twenty years later, in AD 451, the Council of Chalcedon affirmed the Divine Motherhood of Mary as a Dogma, an official doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church. Since Jesus is God, and Mary is his mother, she is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Messiah and the Mother of Christ, our Divine Savior. We also learn from the Holy Scriptures and Sacred Tradition that God filled the mother of His only Son with all celestial graces, freed her at the moment of her conception from original sin through the future (prevenient) merits of the death of Jesus, allowed her to play an active role in the redemptive work of Jesus, and finally took her to Heaven, body and soul, after her death. As He was dying on the cross, Jesus gave us the precious gift of His own mother to be our Heavenly Mother.


Traditional Latin Mass Readings for this Sunday

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