Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Lk 2:16-21)

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Juliet Capulet asks this question in William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. For many cultures a name carries great importance; it is a measure of what a person will be in the future. Joseph and Mary named their child Jesus because that was the name given to them by the angel. It is a name that signifies his identity and his mission; in Hebrew, it literally means “The Lord Saves” or “He Who saves the People”. Isaiah predicted that the child would be born of a virgin and would be called Emmanuel which means “God with us.”

Madonna and Child

Madonna and Child

The Council of Ephesus declared that Jesus was one person with two natures, human and divine; they also affirmed that Mary was not just the mother of the man Jesus, but that she was the ‘Theotokos’ (Greek for ‘God-bearer’), the mother of God.

I am always amazed at how Mary reacted when she was told by the archangel that she was to be the mother of God. As a young unwed Jewish girl, she should have been terrified but instead of reacting with fear she calmly responded “Let it be done unto me according to your will.” Throughout her life she responded with a peaceful acceptance to God’s will. St. Luke wrote that “Mary kept all of these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Mary was completely at peace because she trusted in God.

Mary’s life was completely changed by the conception and birth of her son. I can only imagine how overwhelming this must have been for her; the future must have seemed incredibly distressing. But even in the uneasiness and confusion of that time, I cannot help but picture a woman completely at peace and filled with faith and trust in her God.

We might ask ourselves how Mary could have possibly been so calm while the world appeared to be falling apart around her. I’m sure part of it was her personality, but certainly the presence of God within her, so deep that she produced God’s only son, had to have provided her with certain calmness. Life is never free from danger and difficulties, but as Mary watched her newborn son, she must have sensed God’s love and presence and that must have brought her great peace and joy.

We should try to emulate Mary who, when she heard the news from the shepherds, turned inward, and kept her thoughts between herself and God. We can only imagine how she must have felt, what she must have thought. To be chosen by God to bear His son, the Savior of the world; to hear that her son was the Messiah, the anointed one—Emmanuel, “God with us” —must have caused her great anxiety and concern.

The Holy Spirit filled Mary with peace and gave her the courage to become the Theotokos, the Mother of God. Likewise, we are filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit; we have been blessed with His presence and love. We have been filled with the peace and the courage to faithfully accept her son’s saving graces.

At the birth of Jesus, the heavenly hosts proclaimed: “Peace on earth; good will towards men“. Today, let us pray for peace—the blessed peace of Christmas. Let us pray for peace throughout the world; let us pray that this new year may bring peace to all peoples, our families, and within our hearts. God’s love is so great that not only did he send his only son to save all mankind from sin, but he also made us heirs to His Kingdom. Jesus was born of human estate, sharing in our humanity, so that by lowering himself, he might elevate us and grant us a share in his divinity.

Whenever we receive the body and precious blood of Jesus, we should, like Mary, take a moment to reflect silently in our hearts on the precious gift we have received from God, to thank Him for watching over us and for His great love.

As we honor the Mother of God today, let us remember the words that our Lord spoke to Moses:

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.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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