Homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, Cycle B–2018

FIRST READING                 Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:  “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:  This is how you shall bless the Israelites.  Say to them:  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!  So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

SECOND READING                        Galatians 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:  When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  As proof that you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!”  So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.

GOSPEL                     Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.  All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds.  And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.  Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.  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.

My sisters and brothers in the Lord,

Today we have three really short readings to help us focus on this great mystery of Mary, Mother of God and our Mother.  Only when we understand, even feebly, Mary’s role as Mother of God, can we come to accept fully the reality that God has taken on our flesh and brought redemption.

This year, this Solemnity of Mary comes the very day after the Feast of the Holy Family.  This can help us understand that, for most of her life, people probably looked at Mary as simply an ordinary mother, caring for her only child, a son.  Only as we reflect on the full life of Mary do we come to understand the depth of her love and the depth of her faith in the Lord.  It is Mary’s faith that allows the incarnation to happen, that allows the Word to become flesh.

The first reading, from the Book of Numbers, speak of the Lord’s blessing to the Israelites.  It is because Mary was able to listen and reflect on Scripture that she was able to receive the invitation of God and say “yes” to God’s request of her.

The second reading is from the Letter to the Galatians and tells us clearly that Jesus is born of a woman and born under the law.  The challenge is for each of us to become like Mary and to always say “yes” to whatever God asks of us.  The challenge is for each of us to allow the Lord to be born in us by our obedience to His word.  We can ask Mary’s intercession so that we can follow her example and always say “yes” to the Lord.

The Gospel is the account of Jesus receiving His name and of His circumcision.  Both of these events are there to make clear to us that Jesus is truly human in every aspect of his life—but still divine.  It is Mary’s role as Mother that allows Jesus to be fully human.

Mary is always present in the mystery of our salvation.  As we begin a New Year, she is present again, reminding us to seek the Lord and to listen to His Word and to say “yes” to God.  May this New Year draw us deeper into the mysteries.

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip