The Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God

Mary, The Mother of God

Joke: One Sunday morning, a mother was getting ready for church when she noticed her son wasn’t up yet. She finally went in to wake him up. “Come on, get up. You’ll be late for Mass!” she said. “I don’t want to go!” said her son as he buried his head under the pillow. “You have to go,” the mother wheedled. “No, I’m not going,” he insisted. “And I’ll give you two reasons: Nobody there likes me and I don’t like them.” Indignantly, his mother replied, “You are going to church, and I’ll give you two reasons: You’re forty-five years old and you are the pastor.”

In all 365 days of a year, why does the Church choose this day, the last day of the octave of the Nativity and the beginning of a New Year, to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Mother of God? It’s to tell us how important it is the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, in the life of the Church. Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior and God himself, cannot separate from Christmas, the celebration of her Son’s birthday. The Church chooses this first day of the New Year to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Mother of God and to conclude this octave of Christmas to emphasize the two important realities that in Christ, there are two natures—Human and Divine, and Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God. How is it possible that God, the Almighty God, Creator of the human race and the whole universe, a Son of a human person called Mary? We can only understand this question in the context of Christmas, the Incarnation, God vests on himself our human flesh through the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To prepare Mary to be the Mother of God, Mary was conceived by the Power of the Holy Spirit, reported in the Gospel on Christmas Vigil Mass. How can this be since God is God and Mary is a human being? Exactly. God is still God, and a human being is still a human being. However, God is the Almighty God, he can do whatever he wants to do since he is God.

Interesting enough that today we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Mother of God, but in today’s first reading, it talks about Moses. Why is that Moses when the Church celebrates the feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God? In today’s first reading, taken from the book of Number, the Lord instructs Moses to tell his people Israel that when they invoke [God’s] name, [He] will bless them. Who is this Moses? We have learned from scriptures that Moses, a child of a Hebrew slave, was saved by Egyptian princess. Moses was adopted into a royal family and was exceeded himself in wisdom and understanding until one day, Moses saw a taskmaster beating a Hebrew slave that he couldn’t hold his anger and killed that taskmaster. When this became known, fear overcame and he fled for his life. Later, he was chosen to lead the people of Israel from slavery. In today’s first reading, the Lord instructed him to instruct the Israelites that when they invoke the name of the Lord, praise the name of the Lord, they will be blessed.

Has Mary ever invoked the name of the Lord? Mary does not only invoke the name of the Lord, but more than that, she acknowledges her lowliness and says to the angel, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done unto me according to your word.” In fact, Mary follows the guideline of the laws of Moses to bring the boy Jesus to the temple as a firstborn son as Saint Luke reported in his writing saying, “According to the laws of Moses, they took him [Jesus] up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.” Also, Mary reflected at the words of Simeon and the prophetess Anna talking about the boy Jesus. In today’s Gospel, Mary, once again, reflects on what happens when the shepherds come to adore the baby Jesus in the manger. Saint Luke said, “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Reflecting on her life, Mary teaches us to reflect more often on what’s going on in our own life. Only by reflecting, we can experience God’s presence in our lives like Mary, the Holy Mother of God. A famous philosopher in the ancient world, Socrates, once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Are we able to reflect or to examine our life when we are so busy of working and planning for a living? Are we able to reflect or to examine our life when there are so many attractions around us? The moment that our children come home from school, their eyes and their hands are fixed and stuck on the iPad, iPhone, or any other electronic devices. If we ask them to do iPray instead of iPad or iPhone, we might get a response such as are you crazy? I don’t have time. Honest ourselves, we too do the same thing. If we don’t have a computer, an iPad, or an iPhone available in front of us, or right next to us, are we able to look up the inappropriate materials online?

In today’s second reading, Saint Paul beautifully describes that the Son of God “born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons [and daughters]. So [we] are no longer slave(s) but son [and daughter], and also an heir through God.” Our children are born of a mother, born under the rules in our house; therefore, they ought to listen to the parents and to follow the rules in the house provided that there is no attraction around them. The moment that we allow attractions present in their lives without teaching them and helping them to make a good use of it, the moment they become slave to these attractions rather than listening nor following rules of their parents.

In celebrating the Holy Mother of God in this beginning of a New Year, we might want to ask ourselves: Why did the Lord choose Mary to be the Mother of the Son of God and God himself? What was so special about her? The moment that you became parents to your children, have you ever asked yourselves: Why do you become the parents of your children? Just as Mary was so attractive to be the Holy Mother of God, have you ever been so attractive to be the parents to your children? Have you spent enough time to teach and to guide your children when they are young? Have you ever spent time to listen and to reflect on the needs and concerns of your children? Just as Mary took time to reflect on what’s going on in her life and her Son’s life, have you ever taken time to reflect on what’s going on to you and to your children? Just as Mary became the Holy Mother of the Son of God and God himself, how would you become the holy parents of your children? What would be a resolution for you and me in this New Year? One suggestion would be to follow the examples of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God that the Church celebrates in this beginning of a New Year. The decision is always yours.


Weekday Homilies 2019

Homilies by Fr. Joseph Thang Nguyen

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