01 January 2017Mary Holy Mother of God

Homily from Father James Gilhooley
Mary Holy Mother of God
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God - A Cycle - Luke 2:16-21

She was the key player in a centuries-old drama that is still running its course. She conceived and bore a Son contrary to all medical laws. Though unmarried, she brushed aside all thoughts of abortion.

By holding to her fiat, she turned history upside down. Her affirmation to the angel was not the stuttering response of an ingenue but a mature affirmation that cost her a lifetime of service. She was docile and obedient but future events would prove her gallant and assertive too.

Beginning with the birth of her Son, she must be counted among the homeless of the world. She severed the umbilical cord holding her to the Child. Her Boy, though divine, was but clay in her sculptor's hands. From day one, she knew what it meant to be on the run as she fled to protect the Child's life.

She was marked as the mother of an illegitimate Babe. There were ugly names for her and the Boy. They were used. She did not understand her restless Son, but she neither browbeat Him nor did she crush His dreams. She worked from early AM to late PM. She baked their bread daily and carried their water on her head in tall jars from a nearby stream.

After her husband's death, she was without funds and without job market talents. She and her Boy lived below the official poverty level. She did not self-destruct when her Son's sudden exit worsened her economic straits nor did she consider demanding income from Him.

She studied His adventurous career with enthusiasm and endangered her own life by joining Him on His lecture dates. Time magazine wrote she knew His mission was doomed to failure, but she always sustained Him. Her Magnificat, spoken as a girl, reveals her even then as a revolutionary regarding the poor. The record will not allow her to be painted as a moderate.

She was completely aware of the world about her and its difficulties. James Tahaney says she taught us "love is an active verb and that love is a synonym for grow." She was with her Son when He was murdered and was not cowed by His assassins. She did not blame God for the death of her Son.

After His Ascension, she stood alone, but she remained undaunted. She said yes to life every step of the way. She needed no Women's Liberation, for she was already free. No woman in history holds more titles than she - one hundred seventeen at the last count. And the number still grows.

A peasant to the last and yet Harvard historian Henry Adams calls her "the most powerful religious symbol in fifteen hundred years of Western history." Helen of Troy may have launched a thousand ships, but the woman from Nazareth has launched a million artists.

For twenty centuries, they have saluted her with oils, marble, music, pen, and now graphic art and computer. Lippi, Botticelli, and El Greco would have judged their opus incomplete unless they had painted her on canvas.

Dante called her "daughter of her Son." Chaucer hailed her as "of all flowers flower." Wordsworth wrote of her as "our tainted nature's solitary boast." Gerard Manly Hopkins compared her to the "air we breathe." Coventry Patmore said she is our "only refuge from an abstract Christ." Flannery O'Connor said life without her would be similar to life without sleep.

Her favorite composer was JS Bach, for he began each work with the words "Jesus, help" and ended with "To God alone be glory."

Her favorite saint is the little-known Alphege. He wrote centuries ago, "The one who does not think of the wants of the poor is not a member of the Body of Christ."

St John Vianney said she will only allow herself rest after all her children have been saved.

A theologian says her cult has been fostered more by poets than by his peers.

Though she was illiterate, no woman has had more volumes penned about her nor more universities named after her.

She is the only woman in its history to have appeared on Time magazine's cover eleven times. Time's editors call her the most celebrated woman who ever lived.

She needs none of us. It is we who need her.

(Some of the above have been penned by Authors Unknown.)
Homily from Father Joseph Pellegrino
Mary Holy Mother of God
The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God: Listening to the Word with Her Heart

Today's solemnity, Mary Mother of God, puts a deep theological focus on the Christmas celebration. Going back to our dogmatic theology, the study of the truths of the faith, we focus in on whom this Jesus is. By asking the who question, as distinguished from the what question, we are looking to the person of the Lord. If I asked you, what are you, you would respond: an American, a human being, a Buc fan, or something like that. If I asked you, who are you, you would respond, "I'm Fred Jones, the son of Bill and Martha Jones. If we asked Jesus "What are you" the response would be that he is both divine and human, God and man. If we ask him, "Who are you?" his response would be in the order of, "I am the Eternal Word of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, who took on humanity on Christmas Day. Today's feast, Mary Mother of God, emphasizes the person, the who of Jesus. When we pray, "Holy Mary, Mother of God" we are not suggesting that Mary is a goddess that gave birth to a god. She did not create divinity within her, but she did give birth to a child who was for all eternity the Eternal Word of God. Many artists of past centuries depicted Mary nursing the Baby Jesus. Sadly, many of us Americans are still so affected by Puritanism that we see nursing in a sexual light instead of a maternal light. What the artists are saying is that Mary was the mother of the Lord in all ways, nurturing him during his infancy with her body.

What the artists are also saying is that just as Mary nurtured Jesus, so she cares for and nurtures all the children entrusted to her by her son. "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners".There is another ancient depiction of Mary that could illicit the scorn of the so called intelligentsia if they just stayed on the fringe level of the paintings. Many of the Medieval and Renaissance Masters depicted the Annunciation. Some showed the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit as rays of light enveloping Mary. Many showed this overshadowing as rays of light entering into Mary through one of her ears. This is not a Puritanic avoidance of sexuality. Certainly the Medieval and Renaissance Masters were not concerned with that. Nor is this a childish understanding of how Mary became pregnant, on the same terms of a child coming from the stork. It is a lot deeper than this, profound in fact. What this is saying is that the Eternal Word of God was heard by Mary and given sanctuary within her. St. Augustine put it this way, he said, "Mary, full of grace, first conceived Jesus in her heart before she conceived him in her womb.

There is a power to faith, a primacy of faith, that manifests itself in the physical world. Saturated with the Word of God, the person of faith naturally gives birth to the presence of Christ in the world. I am not just speaking about Mary, Mother of God. I am speaking about us, you and me, Christians, people who make the Word of God present in the world by allowing ourselves to be overshadowed with his presence. Faith is not a matter of dogmas, nor is it a purely spiritual entity hidden from the world. Faith is the integration of the spiritual and physical, the invisible and visible dimensions of a human person. Faith makes God present in the world. Many times people will speak about a meeting with the Holy Father, or with a deeply and truly spiritual person and say, "I felt that I was in the presence of God". They were. And we are. People of true and deep faith make God present in our parish, our community, our country and our world.

People of deep, true faith, are at peace, not because they are withdrawn from the world, but because they have the power to withstand the force of the world that would try to devastate them. "Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners". We are sinners because so often we refuse to allow the Word to become Flesh within our lives. And because we are sinners, we are often in turmoil, for sin is turmoil, chaos. But, if we allow the grace of God to work in us and through us, if we allow his word to take flesh, then we can live in peace. We can be people of peace. Blessed Pope Paul VI gave permission for this feast to be either Mary Mother of God or the World Day of Prayers for Peace. For years, I have asked myself, "Why can't the Church make up its mind?" Now, I am beginning to realize that the two celebrations are really integral to each other. To be Mother of God, is to be a carrier of the Prince of Peace. To ensure peace in the world, we have to, like Mary, "Hear the Word of God and treasure it". "Pray for us sinners, holy Mother of God.? Help us to live up to our capability of making the Eternal Word present in the world. Pray for us to your son. Ask Him for the grace that we might be so permeated with the spiritual that we might make the spiritual physical. Help us to live the Life of Christ. Help us to be People of Peace.
Homily from Father Phil Bloom
* Available in Spanish - see Spanish Homilies
Mary Holy Mother of God

Homily from Father Andrew M. Greeley
Mary Holy Mother of God

Homily from Saint Vincent Archabbey, Latrobe,Pa
Saint Vincent Archabbey
Mary Holy Mother of God
Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, Classic Sunday, January 1, 2017 Luke 2: 16?21

Gospel Summary
Today's gospel text suffers somewhat from being removed from its biblical context. We are told that the shepherds "went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger.? It is helpful to note that they did this only because they had received a vision of angels who told them, "This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger? (Luke 2: 12).

The shepherds are thus taken out of their workaday worlds and asked to see their lives in a new and wonderful way. The insistence on the image of an "infant wrapped in swaddling clothes,? that is, wrapped in warm flannel, alerts us to a profound symbolism here, for the flannel bands stand for God's loving care which is shown to us in the coming of Jesus as our Savior. In a very real sense, we can say that God has wrapped the whole world in secure and loving bands by sending his beloved Son to us as an embodiment of endless loving kindness. Since this feast is the feast of "Mary Mother of God,"  it is important to note also that "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.? We are not told what "all these things" might be, but we can rest assured that they embraced the whole wonderful experience of bearing a child who is already destined to change the course of human history in ways that will be revealed only later ways that will involve both painful self-sacrifice and glorious victory.

Life Implications The beginning of a new year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on the special gift of time. We recall the events of the previous year and express our gratitude for all the good things that have happened, all the while being aware that there have also been sad and painful and perhaps sinful realities. But most of all we celebrate the promise of a new set of months and we try to be hopeful in spite of threats of war and recession and just growing older. Today's gospel has a special message for us as we hang up the new calendar with mixed feelings. The fresh new year is in some ways like the infant Jesus "wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.? Both the new year and the new child seem so vulnerable, but the almighty power of God is hidden in the new year, just as it is in the tiny infant. God is fully prepared to wrap our fragile lives and hopes in the warm blanket of his ever-present and constant love.

With such assurance, we can face the future with generous hope and with light hearts. For we too need to realize that the angels who spoke to the shepherds are speaking to us also when they say, "This will be a sign for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger". Come, let us adore him. Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B. Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Modern Sunday, January 1, 2017 Lectionary 18, Gospel: Luke 2:16-21 The verse introducing the gospel on this first day of the year might hold the key to understanding what we celebrate on this feast dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God, and how the readings address Mary's role in our salvation. The verse is borrowed from the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews: "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets; in these last days, he has spoken to us through the Son? (Heb 1:1-2).

An example of the sort of prophetic announcement to which the author of Hebrews refers ("In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets?) can be found in today's first reading, from the book of Numbers. There we hear how the priests who ministered at first in the meeting tent where God appeared to Moses, and later in the Temple in Jerusalem, would invoke a blessing upon the people of Israel with a special formula: "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!? The Lord concludes in Numbers: "So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them? (Num 6:27). Indeed for many years and centuries the people of Israel found blessing in the Lord through the ministry of his priests and through their worship in the Temple?a place Jesus himself knew from his boyhood. God was faithful to his promise and he truly spoke to his people through the prophets from Moses to John the Baptist, the last of the prophets. Finally, "in these last days, God has spoken to us through the Son" to bring his prophecy to fulfillment; or as St. Paul puts it, "God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption? (Gal 4:4). This Son would be the new and definitive source of blessing for all Israel and even for the gentile nations.

Mary for her part had the humility and the wisdom to recognize that in spite of how much it staggered her mind, the very Lord who spoke to Moses and the Israelites in the days of Numbers was the same as her infant Son, whom she carried to a priest in order that he might be admitted through circumcision as a child of the Mosaic law and thus complete the law and bring all nations to the salvation the law promised. In the gospel we hear: "When eight days were completed for his circumcision, he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel? (Luke 2:21). Jesus, whose name means "salvation," was the Son who extended the promise of God to all the nations; Mary was the Mother whose peaceful acceptance of God's will" be it done unto me according to your word? (Luke 1:38)?led to the completion of the Lord's plan and thus she is rightly honored this day as the Mother of God. The blessing first came to Israel through the prophetic and priestly words of Numbers; the blessing now comes to all through Jesus, our "salvation?. Let us give thanks today that in the mystery of God's plan for our salvation Mary was chosen to bring her maternal strength and devotion together with the Lord's grace?so that she may be mother to all who seek her intercession, and so that truly all nations and all generations may call her "blessed" (Luke 1:48). Father Edward Mazich, O.S.B
Homily from Father Cusick
Meeting Christ in the Liturgy
Mary Holy Mother of God

Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Mary Holy Mother of God

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