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ARTICLE: Jan 1st: Mary Mother of God Year: B

Mary Mother of God Year: B

Nm 6.22-27; Ps 66(65); Gal 4.4-7; Lk 2.16-21

God’s Wings

An article in National Geographic several years ago provided a penetrating picture of God's wings. After a forest fire in Yellowstone National Park, forest rangers began their trek up a mountain to assess the inferno's damage. One ranger found a bird literally petrified in ashes, perched statuesquely on the ground at the base of a tree. Somewhat sickened by the eerie sight, he knocked over the bird with a stick. When he struck it, three tiny chicks scurried from under their mother's wings. The loving mother, keenly aware of impending disaster, had carried her offspring to the base of the tree and gathered them under her wings, instinctively knowing that toxic smoke would rise. She could have flown to safety, but had refused to abandon her babies. When the blaze had arrived and the heat singed her small body, the mother remained steadfast. Because she had been willing to die, those under the cover of her wings continued to live. "He shall cover thee with His feathers and under His wings shall thou trust" (Ps 91.4). Learn to experience the warmth and protection of life beneath the wings of the Almighty."

First Day of the Year

On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God. The divine and virginal motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a singular salvific event: for Our Lady it was the foretaste and cause of her extraordinary glory; for us it is a source of grace and salvation because "through her we have received the Author of life".

The solemnity of the 1st January, an eminently Marian feast, presents an excellent opportunity for liturgical piety to encounter popular piety: the first celebrates this event in a manner proper to it; the second, when duly catechised, lends joy and happiness to the various expressions of praise offered to Our Lady on the birth of her divine Son, to deepen our understanding of many prayers, beginning with that which says: "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners".

Civil Year

In the West, 1st January is an inaugural day marking the beginning of the civil year. The faithful are also involved in the celebrations for the beginning of the New Year and exchange "new year" greetings. However, they should try to lend a Christian understanding to this custom making of these greetings an expression of popular piety. The faithful, naturally, realize that the "new year" is placed under the patronage of the Lord, and in exchanging New Year greetings they implicitly and explicitly place the New Year under the Lord's dominion, since to him belongs all time.

Come Holy Spirit

A connection between this consciousness and the popular custom of singing the Veni Creator Spiritus can easily be made so that on 1st January the faithful can pray that the Spirit may direct their thoughts and actions, and those of the community during the course of the year.

New Year greetings also include an expression of hope for a peaceful New Year. This has profound biblical, Christological and Incarnational origins. The "quality of peace" has always been invoked throughout history by all men, and especially during violent and destructive times of war.

World Day of Peace

The Holy See shares the profound aspirations of man for peace. Since 1967, 1st January has been designated "World Day for Peace".

Popular piety has not been oblivious to this initiative of the Holy See. In the light of the new born Prince of Peace, it reserves this day for intense prayer for peace, education towards peace and those value inextricably linked with it, such as liberty, fraternal solidarity, the dignity of the human person, respect for nature, the right to work, the sacredness of human life, and the denunciation of injustices which trouble the conscience of man and threaten peace.

Supplier of Genetic Matter

A woman is a man’s mother either if she carried him in her womb or if she was the woman contributing half of his genetic matter or both. Mary was the mother of Jesus in both of these senses; because she not only carried Jesus in her womb but also supplied all of the genetic matter for his human body, since it was through her—not Joseph—that Jesus "was descended from David according to the flesh" (Rom 1.3).

Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, it must be concluded that she is also the Mother of God: If Mary is the mother of Jesus, and if Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. There is no way out of this logical syllogism, the valid form of which has been recognized by classical logicians since before the time of Christ.

Although Mary is the Mother of God, she is not his mother in the sense that she is older than God or the source of her Son’s divinity, for she is neither. Rather, we say that she is the Mother of God in the sense that she carried in her womb a divine person—Jesus Christ, God "in the flesh" (2 John 7, cf. John 1.14)—and in the sense that she contributed the genetic matter to the human form God took in Jesus Christ.

Nestorian Heresy

To avoid this conclusion, Fundamentalists often assert that Mary did not carry God in her womb, but only carried Christ’s human nature. This assertion reinvents a heresy from the fifth century known as Nestorianism, which runs aground on the fact that a mother does not merely carry the human nature of her child in her womb. Rather, she carries the person of her child. Women do not give birth to human natures; they give birth to persons. Mary thus carried and gave birth to the person of Jesus Christ, and the person she gave birth to was God.

The Nestorian claim that Mary did not give birth to the unified person of Jesus Christ attempts to separate Christ’s human nature from his divine nature, creating two separate and distinct persons—one divine and one human—united in a loose affiliation. It is therefore a Christological heresy, which even the Protestant Reformers recognized. Both Martin Luther and John Calvin insisted on Mary’s divine maternity. In fact, it even appears that Nestorius himself may not have believed the heresy named after him. Further, the "Nestorian" church has now signed a joint declaration on Christology with the Catholic Church and recognizes Mary’s divine maternity, just as other Christians do.

Since denying that Mary is God’s mother implies doubt about Jesus’ divinity, it is clear why Christians (until recent times) have been unanimous in proclaiming Mary as Mother of God.

Theotokos

The origins of a feast celebrating Mary's divine maternity are obscure, but there is some evidence of ancient feasts commemorating Mary's role as theotokos. Around 500 AD the Eastern Church celebrated a "Day of the Theotokos" either before or after Christmas. This celebration eventually evolved into a Marian feast on December 26th in the Byzantine calendar and January 16th in the Coptic calendar. In the West, Christmas has generally been celebrated with an octave, an eight day extension of the feast. The Gregorian and Roman calendars of the 7th century mark the Christmas octave day with a strong Marian emphasis. However, eventually in the West, the eighth day of the octave of Christmas was celebrated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus. The push for an official feast day celebrating Mary's divine maternity started in Portugal, and in 1751 Pope Benedict XIV allowed Portugal's churches to celebrate Mary's divine maternity on the first Sunday in May. The feast was eventually extended to other countries, and by 1914 was being celebrated on October 11. The feast of Mary's divine maternity became a universal feast in 1931.

Let us celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, who can guide us on the path of salvation.

Practical Conclusions

Mary Mother of God can inspire us to have great love to our earthly mother. We can make efforts at honouring our mother and promote respect for life in our society.

 

Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and JOSEPH - Year B - Luke 2:22-40

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Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and JOSEPH - Year B - Luke 2:22-40

Saturday - Octave Of Christmas - Year B - Luke 2:36-40

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Saturday - Octave Of Christmas - Year B - Luke 2:36-40

Article: Holy Family Feast Year: B

Holy Family Feast Year: B

Gen 15.1-6; 17.3b-5, 15-16; 21.1-7; Heb 11.8, 11-12, 17-19; Lk 2.22-40

Father did not Wake up the Next Day

Father was a hardworking man who delivered bread as a living to support his wife and three children. He spent all his evenings after work attending classes, hoping to improve himself so that he could one day find a better paying job. Except for Sundays, Father hardly ate a meal together with his family. He worked and studied very hard because he wanted to provide his family with the best money could buy.

Whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

He Passed

The day came when the examination results were announced. To his joy, Father passed, and with distinctions too! Soon after, he was offered a good job as a senior supervisor which paid handsomely.

Like a dream come true, Father could now afford to provide his family with life’s little luxuries like nice clothing, fine food and vacation abroad.

However, the family still did not get to see father for most of the week. He continued to work very hard, hoping to be promoted to the position of manager. In fact, to make himself a worthily candidate for the promotion, he enrolled for another course in the open university.

Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

Hard Work Paid off

Father’s hard work paid off and he was promoted. Jubilantly, he decided to hire a maid to relieve his wife from her domestic tasks. He also felt that their three-room flat was no longer big enough, it would be nice for his family to be able to enjoy the facilities and comfort of a condominium. Having experienced the rewards of his hard work many times before, Father resolved to further his studies and work at being promoted again. The family still did not get to see much of him. In fact, sometimes Father had to work on Sundays entertaining clients. Again, whenever the family complained that he was not spending enough time with them, he reasoned that he was doing all this for them. But he often yearned to spend more time with his family.

As expected, Father’s hard work paid off again and he bought a beautiful condominium overlooking the coast of Singapore. On the first Sunday evening at their new home, Father declared to his family that he decided not to take anymore courses or pursue any more promotions. From then on he was going to devote more time to his family.

Father did not wake up the next day

Family in God´s Plan

The Son of God, who is like us "in all things but sin" was born into a human family. It was certainly not coincidental that this "communion of persons … sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit" is the human institution that best reflects the life of the Trinity from whose bosom the Son came into the world. He had emptied himself to assume the condition of a powerless and totally dependent infant. He came to an unfriendly world that at best ignored him (John 1.11), at worst sought to snuff out his life at its very beginnings (Matthew 2.13). God does not normally have recourse to the miraculous when he has already made natural provision for our care. The family constitutes the privileged and protective environment into which God wills all of his children to be born and to grow. His plan for his only-begotten Son was no different.

The Model Family

Marriage and the family are so central and so incalculably vital for persons, Church and society that God willed to offer us, from the beginnings of our salvation, not a treatise but a living, perfect model of what it should and can be, of how it works. Mary and Joseph undertook marriage as a vocation: in the midst of great perplexity on their part, it was God´s plan, rather than theirs (Luke 1.27, 34; Matthew 1.18-20, 24). Their attitude as parents is exemplary. They accept the child as a gift of God (Luke). They accept that he is not their ‘property’ but owes his first allegiance to God and must be consecrated to him. They accept their son’s vocation even though it has deeply disturbing aspects: they were "marveling at what was being said about him". They accept the sufferings that will accompany their task as parents ("a sword will pierce your own soul"). They accept the full responsibility of his education, so that he may grow in body, mind and spirit

The Family of Nazareth

Exemplary too are the whole dynamics of family life in Nazareth. If God should be present in every family, here this is literally the case. The purpose of this family´s existence is God’s presence in the world. Its life revolves around the person of Christ. Grace, lived charity and an atmosphere of prayer penetrate every aspect of family life at Nazareth.

Catechism of the Catholic Church

Two fundamental aspects of the family in God’s plan are the family as the "domestic Church" (CCC 1655-58; 2204-06); and the family as a natural institution formed by "a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children", which is "the original cell of social life" (2201-03; 2207-11). Both of these aspects, besides being central to the experience and concerns of most Christians, require special attention in today’s society and a more extended catechetical treatment. The same could be said for the respective duties within the family of children and parents (2214-31).

Ecclesia Domestica

Taking its cue from the fact that "Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary", the Catechism (1665-67) offers a vision of the "domestic Church" that is a homily in itself:

The Family of God

The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all their household" (Acts 18.8). When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved (Acts 16.31, 11.14). These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example… the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children … The home is the first school of Christian life and ‘a school for human enrichment.’ Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous – even repeated – forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life".

Family in the World

We are currently witnessing many efforts to ‘redefine’ the family. No sensible person, let alone a Catholic, can believe that public officials or special-interest lobbies will somehow come up with a ‘better’ design for the family than God has given it. Revelation has made us Catholics more sensitive to the importance of this natural institution. Therefore, besides a strong witness of loving and harmonious family life, Catholic families have a particular duty to offer those around them in society their reasoned convictions regarding the vital role of the family and the need to fortify and protect it by all means. This includes proposing and supporting legislation and policies to this effect at local, national and international level. An enumeration of the political community’s principal duties in this regard can also be found in the Catechism (2211).

Family is the Fundamental Unit

Today's Feast of the Holy Family focuses our attention on the fundamental unit of our civil society - and our Church. Throughout the centuries people have taken for granted that the union of husband and wife (together with their children) constitutes a family. For that reason, we refer to Joseph, Mary and Jesus as the Holy Family. With the breakdown of Western civilization, however, some people want to revise that definition of marriage and family. With so much confusion (and outright distortion) on the meaning of marriage, this is a good moment to review the basics.

Genesis of Family

Let's start at the beginning. In the first book of the Bible, we read how God creates the universe, then the plants and animals. Finally, he creates man in his own image and likeness. He gives our first parents the command to "be fruitful and multiply." When God creates the woman from man's side, the man exclaims, "This one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh." Then the Bible says, "For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife and the two become one flesh."

Hardness of Heart

Now, in the Old Testament we read about many deviations from this ideal, including polygamy and divorce. But when they asked Jesus if a man can divorce his wife, he says, "Moses allowed divorce because of your hardness of heart, but in the beginning God made them male and female - and for that reason a man leaves his father and mother and joins himself to his wife and the two become one flesh." Then Jesus adds, "Let no man separate what God has joined."

Jesus’ Vision

In many other ways Jesus showed the sanctity of marriage. For example, he cared so much for young married couples that he did his first miracle to rescue a wedding reception. And when he met a woman who had been involved in a series of marriages, he told her that the one she has now is not her own. (The Samaritan woman, God love her, did not take offense; she said, "This man must be a prophet"). Jesus used nuptial imagery to explain his mission. He prohibited his disciples from fasting because, "the wedding guests do not fast when the bridegroom is with them." In referring to himself as bridegroom, Jesus was hearkening to a long Old Testament tradition. The prophets (Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel and Isaiah) spoke of God as the groom and Israel as his bride.

St. Paul and St. Peter

Jesus’ closest followers showed reverence for marriage. Even though Paul (like Jesus) was celibate, he taught an exalted doctrine of marriage: the union of husband and wife is a sacrament (mysterion) of the union of Jesus and the Church. St. Peter devotes a good part of his first letter to instructing husbands and wives. And the Bible concludes with St. John's magnificent vision of the wedding of the Lamb (Jesus) with his bride the Church.

The Church

The Church has consistently taught the beauty and sanctity of marriage. For example, St. John Chrysostom suggested that young husbands should say this to their wives: "I have taken you in my arms, and I love you, and I prefer you to my life itself. For the present life is nothing, and my most ardent dream is to spend it with you in such a way that we may be assured of not being separated in the life reserved for us...; I place your love above all things, and nothing would be more bitter or painful to me than to be of a different mind than you." (CCC 2365)

The Song of Songs

One other testimony to this constant teaching is the way Christian writers used the Song of Songs. If it were a movie, that book of the Bible would be rated PG-13. It is a love poem that frankly describes the feelings of a young man and woman in love. Many of the Church Fathers (Origen, Ambrose, Gregory of Nyssa et al) have lengthy commentaries on it - and mystics like Bernard of Clairvaux and John of the Cross used it as the basis of their mystical theology. This shows that although the Church has often warned about distortions of human sexuality, we have constantly presented the love of man and woman that leads to marriage as something beautiful - and sacred. Holy Family Sunday is a good opportunity to reflect on the dignity of marriage and family - as foundational both to human society and to the Church – and to pray for all our married couples.

Practical Conclusions

Family is Sacred. Let us promote this sacred institution in our life, in our preaching, in our teaching and encourage the youth about the beauty of family, and its value in our life.

Fr. Rudolf V. D’Souza OCD

Vancouver - Canada

Friday - Octave Of Christmas - Year B - Luke 2:22-35

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Friday - Octave Of Christmas - Year B - Luke 2:22-35

The Holy Innocents - Octave Of Christmas- Matthew 2:13-18

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The Holy Innocents - Octave Of Christmas- Matthew 2:13-18

Wednesday in the Octave Of Christmas - Feast of St. John - John 20:2-8

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Wednesday in the Octave Of Christmas - Feast of St. John - John 20:2-8

Tuesday Christmas Octave- Feast of St. Stephen - Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22

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Tuesday Christmas Octave- Feast of St. Stephen - Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59; Matthew 10:17-22

Merry Christmas from LIVING FLAME

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Merry Christmas from LIVING FLAME

4th Sunday Of Advent -Year B - Luke 1:26-38

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4th Sunday Of Advent -Year B - Luke 1:26-38