The Octave Day of Christmas
Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God
Lectionary: 18 (NAB Translation)
This week’s first reading is from the book of Numbers, the fourth book in the Old Testament and part of the Pentateuch. This particular passage gives us a blessing formula used by priests in the temple liturgy of the ancient Israelites. Three times the name of the Lord is invoked: 1) asking for His protection, 2) His presence, and 3) His peace. This particular reading is given on the Solemnity of Mary because it relates to the Gospel which tells of the circumcision and naming of Jesus. Protection, presence, and peace are gifts that are accessible through the name of Jesus Christ, whom we now invoke for blessings. This blessing formula is also part of the Catholic liturgy and still frequently used at the end of Mass.
The response for this week’s Psalm echoes the thoughts of the first reading: “May God bless us in his mercy.”
In this week’s second reading from Saint Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we learn that our status as children of God that was lost by the fall of Adam can now be restored through adoption. Through adoption we are now heirs again of God’s kingdom. The proof is from the Holy Spirit that gives us the boldness to call God our Father, “Abba” – or “Daddy”. This is the great mystery known as “Divine Filiation” which says we are far more than slaves (or even friends) of God. Because of the Incarnation, made possible by Mary’s cooperation, we now have the tremendous grace of unsurpassed access as sons and daughters of God.
This week’s gospel from St. Luke begins with the witness of the shepherds to whom the angels have announced the arrival of the Messiah. Having received the message, they went “in haste” – wasting no time to find the child Jesus along with Mary and Joseph. We notice here that Luke says “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” This is said of Mary later upon finding Jesus in the Temple and it is clear that this must have occurred throughout her life, as she continued grow in her understanding of the plan of God. Finally, we read, “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 name “Jesus” means, “God saves” or “God is salvation”, or more simply, Savior. Mary is mother of our Savior and our Savior is God Himself who with Mary’s cooperation has become incarnate for our sake. Thus it is fitting to refer to Mary as “Mother of God.” — the mother of the second person of the Trinity, the mother of Jesus our brother. And if Jesus is our brother, then Mary is our mother as well.
Reflection question from Bishop Vásquez
By believing and obeying, Mary gave birth to the Son of God, and so we call her Mother of God. By responding to the grace of baptism and by our own belief and obedience, Christ is truly present in and through us. This is a great mystery upon which we should constantly reflect. May we constantly look to Mary as a model of discipleship. In this new Year of Grace, “The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!