Homily for 1st Jan -Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Year B

Resolving To Walk With God This Year: Mary, Mother of God, Help Us!

Rdgs: (1st: Nu 6, 22-27: Ps 66, 2-6; 2nd: Gal 4, 4-7: Gos: Luke 2, 16-21)         

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men… (CCC 721). Happy New Year my dear brethrens! Today is a special day for all of us. First, we give thanks to God for his many favours especially, for the opportunity of a New Year. Second, today we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. Both of these are sources of great blessings to us and so we cannot but say thank you Lord! One remarkable thing about all our readings today is that they are all short and simple. While the first is God’s blessing upon us for the New Year, the second, and the Gospel help us reflect on the role of Mary, Mother of God in God’s plan our salvation.

On this first day of the year, today’s solemnity is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is a western derivation from the Greek “Theotokos” (God-bearer).  Today, the church as ever before, reminds us of the role that the Blessed Virgin Mary played in the plan of our salvation. This solemnity can be traced back to the Council of Ephesus in 431.  In 1751, after a push in Portugal for an official feast day celebrating Mary’s divine maternity, Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal’s churches to devote a feast to Mary on the first Sunday in May.  Eventually, the feast extended to other countries, and in 1914 began to be observed on October 11.  In 1931, Pope Pius XI extended the feast to the entire church. Finally, in 1974, Pope Paul VI removed the feast of the Circumcision of Christ from the liturgical calendar, and replaced it with the feast of the “Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God”, bringing Mary’s feast day back to the first day of the year.

New Year offers new opportunities, new ideas, and new resolutions. It is a sign of regeneration and a time hope. A young man was asked: “What is your new year resolution? And he simply responded: “I have resolved to give God all his due. I have owed him enough.” He was further asked: “And what is this His due? He responded: “His due is me, the whole of my life, the whole of my time and the whole of my plans; I have long walked alone and failed. This year I will not work alone again. So my number one priority this year is to walk with God and I know he will not let me fail again as I have always done alone.” Many times I have personally made New Year resolutions. Unfortunately, I have not been good at keeping them. This could have been due to any of the following reasons: May be, I was not meticulous enough about keeping them; May be, circumstances beyond my control prevailed against me and my game plan had to change; and most importantly, may be because in making those resolutions I did not consult God. These are all possibilities, but I think the last is the most probable because we are often in a hurry to do things without asking God, what do I do this time, how do I do it, and where do I go from here? So, if we have made resolutions and failed it could be that we did not allow God to vet them and to show us the way forward. One important thing we must do this New Year is to resolve to strengthen our relationship and walk with God. We must be ready to commit our ways unto him as Proverbs tells: Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans (Pr 16, 3). And also, as the Psalmist admonishes us: Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this…(Ps 37, 5). This year we must refuse to move unless God goes before us. In order words we must develop the resilient spirit of Moses who insisted before God: “If you do not personally go with us, do not make us leave this place… (Ex 33, 15).  Of course the Lord heard his petition: “I will do just as you have asked because I know you very well and I am pleased with you” (v.17).  We must like Enoch (Gen 5, 24) walk with God this year in order to achieve our plans and resolutions. On his own part God is ever ready and willing to walk with us. Hence through our first reading today, he has equipped us for the journey ahead this year. It is a blessing and comes at no other time better than on the first day of a New Year. Therefore, all we need do is simply say Amen. It is a blessing that must guide us positively into, and throughout the year. This is the evidence that God himself wishes to walk with us. What more do we need this year if He has pronounced his blessings on us and has pledge to allow the light of his face shine upon us? Nothing more my brethren! All we need is to resolve to walk with him and he will do the rest.

The second reading on its part reminds us of how God took flesh by being born of the Blessed Virgin Mary whose solemnity we celebrate today. Most importantly, this reading reminds us of our sonship which is not biological but through adoption. We, by adoption, are children of the same Father (God) as Christ is. Likewise, by adoption, we are children of Mary because, only Christ is biologically speaking. So as children of God we are born of the same spirit with Christ and equally share the same mother. The gospel simply teaches and reminds us that Mary played her motherly role very towards her son Jesus Christ – God made man. Most importantly, it teaches that she was obedient and fulfilled all that she was told to do: “When the eight day came…they gave him the name Jesus, the name the angel had given him before his conception.”  Not only did she give birth to Him, she nurtured him like every good mother would. Though this, she presents herself as the epitome and model of Good motherhood.

So, as we move into this year already blessed by God in our first reading, let us continue to ask the Mother of God and our mother too, to help us remain focused all through this year in our walk with God and in all that we do. Let us pray: “Hail Mary full of grace…Hail Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now until the hour of our death…Oh Holy Mother of God despise not our prayers in our necessity, but deliver us from all dangers, oh ever glorious and blessed Virgin Mary…Amen. Happy New Year to you all!

Peace be with You!


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