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Thursday, January 1, 2015

THEOTOKOS: The God Bearer Arrives!

Sermon by Rev. John Paul Shea
Solemnity of Mary, Jan. 1, 2015
Saints Peter & Paul Parish, Tucson, AZ

We begin this New Year celebrating the  Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, to call for the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. 

Christianity taught from the beginning that Mary is the Mother of God. It is the oldest Marian feast  known in the West. Paintings titled "Mary, Mother of God," appear in the catacombs, dug under the city of Rome, where the first Christians gathered to celebrate Mass in times of persecution.

And in the year 431, the Council of Ephesus decreed it is official Catholic teaching that Mary is the Mother of God because her son Jesus is both God and man: one Divine Person with two natures (divine and human).
Although the New Testament does not use the explicit title of Mary as Mother of God, there are expressions which in essence contain this truth concerning Mary. Of her is written in the Gospel of Luke that she has conceived in her womb and born a Son, named Jesus, who is Son of the Most High, holy and son of God. In the Gospel of John, we hear that Jesus, the Word, was in the very beginning with God, this Word was God, and this Word became flesh and dwelt among us. St. Elizabeth greets her cousin Mary, pregnant with Jesus Christ, saying, "Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?"
Shepherds watch
In today’s second reading from Saint Paul to the Galatians we hear that “when the 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.” (Galatians 4:4-5) So we are reminded that Mary has been part of God’s plan for salvation ever since the beginning of salvation history. We hear of the fulfillment of this plan of God in  today’s Gospel where the shepherds rush to our Lord, the Son of God, born as a small child and lying in a manger, and report of their encounter with angels telling of this miracle. (Luke 2:16-21)
Mary, in a way, can be seen as a bridge between God and humanity. It is through her that the divinity of Jesus enters into our world so that we can share in the life of God. 

God has come in the flesh, in our humanity so that we can share in His divinity! It is through Mary that we have been given the Body and Blood of Our Lord in the Eucharist. If there were no Mary, we would have no Eucharist. If there was no Mary, there would be no Christmas. With no Mary, we would not have salvation.

Today’s Solemnity also reminds us of the gift of motherhood.
Motherhood is a gift that many women joyfully receive. Many women long for it, for but for various reasons are unable to receive. And it is a gift that many in our culture and society do not acknowledge as the utmost blessing that it is.

Being a mother is not easy! In fact being a mother in today’s society and culture can be quite difficult. In this Mass we pray for struggling mothers. We pray for potential mothers. And we pray for all mothers.
As I mentioned, the Catholic Church wants to begin the year calling for the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the Mother of God, Mary has been exalted by grace above all angels and men to a place second only to her Son. God used our Blessed Mother to come into our world at His first coming, and He continues to use Mary to intercede for us in this present world as we await and prepare for our Lord’s second coming. 

Fr. John Paul Shea
My brothers and sisters, as we enter into this New Year we realize that we live in a time of many uncertainties. Many people live in fear about what the near future may hold. But not us! We live in hope because our God, the author of all life, has indeed been born for us. So, let us place our lives in the hands of God. He will take care of us! And let us pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother Mary, the Mother of God. We desperately need her prayers! Have a blessed and safe New Year.

1 comment:

  1. This profound. I hope that separated brethren read and study this, so that they see that the Blessed Mother, rather than a hindrance to Our Blessed Lord, is actually essential to having a relationship with Him. They agree with us we should imitate Him. Well, I ask: what good son does not have a wonderful relationship with his mother?