January 1, 2017: Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God
Catholic Social Teaching: Life and Dignity of the Human Person
Heir to the hope of the righteous in Israel and first among the disciples of Jesus Christ is Mary, his Mother. By her “fiat” to the plan of God’s love (cf. Lk 1:38), in the name of all humanity, she accepts in history the One sent by the Father, the Saviour of mankind. In her Magnificat she proclaims the advent of the Mystery of Salvation, the coming of the “Messiah of the poor” (cf. Is 11:4; 61:1). The God of the Covenant, whom the Virgin of Nazareth praises in song as her spirit rejoices, is the One who casts down the mighty from their thrones and raises up the lowly, fills the hungry with good things and sends the rich away empty, scatters the proud and shows mercy to those who fear him (cf. Lk 1:50-53).
Looking to the heart of Mary, to the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, Christ’s disciples are called to renew ever more fully in themselves “the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus”. Mary is totally dependent upon God and completely directed towards him by the impetus of her faith. She is “the most perfect image of freedom and of the liberation of humanity and of the universe” (59) Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
Psalm: 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
Gospel: Luke 2:16-21
Catechism of the Catholic Church
Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus”, Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord”.In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos) (495)
From the Daily Roman Missal, Introduction to Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God, Cycle A, B and C
Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church:
In biblical revelation, peace is much more than the simple absence of war; it represents the fullness of life (cf. Mal 2:5). Far from being the work of human hands, it is one of the greatest gifts that God offers to all men and women, and it involves obedience to the divine plan. Peace is the effect of the blessing that God bestows upon his people: “The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace” (Num 6:26). This peace produces fruitfulness (Is 48:19), well-being (cf. Is 48:18), prosperity (cf. Is 54:13), absence of fear (cf. Lev 26:6) and profound joy (cf. Pr 12:20). (489)
The new reality that Jesus Christ gives us is not grafted onto human nature nor is it added from outside: it is rather that reality of communion with the Trinitarian God to which men and women have always been oriented in the depths of their being, thanks to their creaturely likeness to God. But this is also a reality that people cannot attain by their own forces alone. Through the Spirit of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God, in whom this reality of communion has already been brought about in a singular manner, men and women are received as children of God (cf. Rom 8:14-17; Gal 4:4-7). By means of Christ, we share in the nature of God, who gives us infinitely more “than all that we ask or think” (Eph 3:20). What mankind has already received is nothing more than a token or a “guarantee” (2 Cor 1:22; Eph 1:14) of what it will receive in its fullness only in the presence of God, seen “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12), that is, a guarantee of eternal life: “And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). (122)
The Face of God, progressively revealed in the history of salvation, shines in its fullness in the Face of Jesus Christ crucified and risen from the dead. God is Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; truly distinct and truly one, because God is an infinite communion of love. God’s gratuitous love for humanity is revealed, before anything else, as love springing from the Father, from whom everything draws its source; as the free communication that the Son makes of this love, giving himself anew to the Father and giving himself to mankind; as the ever new fruitfulness of divine love that the Holy Spirit pours forth into the hearts of men (cf. Rom 5:5). (31)
The salvation offered by God to his children requires their free response and acceptance. It is in this that faith consists, and it is through this that “man freely commits his entire self to God”, responding to God’s prior and superabundant love (cf. 1 Jn 4:10) with concrete love for his brothers and sisters, and with steadfast hope because “he who promised is faithful” (Heb 10:23). In fact, the divine plan of salvation does not consign human creatures to a state of mere passivity or of lesser status in relation to their Creator, because their relationship to God, whom Jesus Christ reveals to us and in whom he freely makes us sharers by the working of the Holy Spirit, is that of a child to its parent: the very relationship that Jesus lives with the Father (cf. Jn 15-17; Gal 4:6-7). (39)
For complete text visit: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/justpeace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html
Shepherds, the low rung of society, mostly did not own the sheep they tended or the land upon which they grazed. They worked for hire and comprised a significant number of women and young children. So for them to leave their flocks and travel in haste to Bethlehem meant a significant commitment to locate the new born infant. Where did they get lodgings and provisions? Without GPS, an internet rumor blog or cable TV, the shepherds found the infant lying in a manger. The most humble of locales, the place where animals were cared for and fed to preconfigure the care and feeding of believers the infant would eventually provide for in the Eucharistic feast. Not content with just seeing the infant, they made known the message they had been told about the child. To whom and where did they tell the message? Mary and Joseph, the villagers of Bethlehem and other travelers along the way probably observed their fervor. Question arose, we can only hypothesize. The shepherds provided a story of WOW for those hearing their accounts. Where their doubters among some shepherds, those hearing the shepherds testimony? We don’t know, but those that heard, saw and believed returned to their pastures glorifying and praising God. From the mundane grazing of sheep, to seeing the Incarnate manifestation of God, would the stars ever look the same on a clear, cold night, would touching the fuzzy wool on a sheep’s back ever feel the same, would smelling the grazing stubble after a heavy morning dew ever filter their breath the same? In the Lucan concern for the lowly, the shepherds personified role models for believers and proclaimers of the Gospel. The shepherd did not wait around for the ritual naming of Jesus, as they understood beyond formalities and had already traversed to the heart of the matter. They were far from being grasped by the law in the fields away from temple ritualism, but knew what they saw since the Spirit of God’s Son permeated their hearts. They were liberated from slavery to become sons and daughters of God, no matter how society oppressed them. All the while, Mary kept all the swirling notions in her heart, a place of thought in Hebrew culture, as she had not fully processed the ramifications of her affirmation of cooperation with God.
Will this Christmas season propel us to live with the faith of shepherds? To let the Spirit touch our hearts, so we believe and let faith takes us beyond the normalcy of life? Like the shepherds will we be proclaimers of faith and live praising God in all aspects of our lives? Will we realize being lowly is being is being open to change, a humbleness of Spirit that triggers a desire to grasp what possesses meaning and disdain the whirling oppressive hierarchy rooted in class, privilege, elitism and clericalism? As we live our faith, may we live with the simplicity of shepherds and their courageous boldness of faith.
Read the World Day of Peace message by Pope Francis. Share excerpts from the reflection that might be meaningful with various ministries at your parish:
Family Reflection: Numbers 6:22-27
To start the New Year, bless all members of the family with this Scripture’s blessing. Write it on a piece of paper and place it in your home where people see it every day during the coming year.
Prayer: Prayer over the Offerings for Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God
O God, who through the fruitful virginity of Blessed Mary, bestowed on the human race the grace of eternal salvation, grant, we pray, that we may experience the intercession of her, through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen
Blogs to Visit:
As we reflect upon Mary’s presence in the mysteries of the Rosary, we are blessed to know her. For her journey, a timeless trek, calls us to surrender, continuing conversion, humbleness and justice now.
Weekly lectionary reflections, for faith sharing groups, parish bulletins, newsletters or personal prayer, from the synergy of the Word we hear and the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching.
Catholic Social Teaching offers seven principles for upholding life in our thoughts, decisions and actions.
How we do Catholic Social Teaching.
Creation sustainability ministry resources in the spirit of the St Francis Pledge.
Social Ministry Resources Engaging Parishes: Monthly and liturgical seasons resources for use with parish websites, bulletins and newsletters
List one or two upcoming events, legislative action alerts or social justice websites
By Barb Born December 17, 2016 The reflection maybe used in parish bulletins, newsletters or for faith sharing groups without copyright concern.