BLESSINGS IN ABUNDANCE
FRIDAY, SOLEMNITY OF THE HOLY MARY, MOTHER OF GOD
Reading 1: Num 6: 22-27 The Lord himself tells Moses and Aaron how he wants his people to be blessed.
Reading 2: Gal 4:4-7 St. Paul informs us of our great dignity as members of Christ: we are adopted children of God, not slaves.
Gospel: Lk 2: 16-21 Shepherds’ visit Jesus in the manger. The Shepherds after seeing Jesus, return glorifying and praising God. And Mary treasured these in her heart.
Today we are beginning the new year. And on this day, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Holy Mary, Mother of God. It is as if the Church hands over itself, and the whole of humanity, into the hands of our heavenly mother to be nourished, nurtured and protected by her throughout the year. This title ‘Mother of God’ was associated with Mother Mary in popular devotion right from the early years of Christianity, and in the year 431, in the Counsel of Ephesus, the Church officially conferred it on her. Since Mary is the mother of Jesus – the second person of the Trinity, she is rightly addressed as Mother of God.
The liturgy of today focuses on God’s blessings upon his people. In the first reading from the book of numbers, God instructs Moses regarding how Aaron and the priests thereafter should bless the people in his name. Aaron and his sons were the first priests anointed by God to represent him to the people, and to bring the prayers and sacrifices of the people to him. And therefore, appointing them to this exalted position, he commissions them to bless the people in his name. Coming into the new year after a year of unprecedented change because of the pandemic and its fallout, this blessing gains special significance. It is, at the same time, a test of our faith and a boost for our hope. It is a test of our faith in God’s blessing upon us despite the sufferings around, and a hope that he is ever-willing to bring peace to those who seek it, no matter what may be the prevailing situation. Furthermore, it is and will always be, a blessing of the Lord even though it comes through the hands of men. Therefore, even in the absence of the physical presence of the one anointed for the purpose, the blessing is always bestowed upon all who desire it. For he says, “I will bless them.”
In the second reading St Paul reminds us of the God’s double blessing of sending his only Son to the world, and making us his children through him. The proof that this blessing is ours is the gift of faith that we possess. For, each time we call God “Our Father”, or confess our faith in his son in the depths of our heart, or reach out to him in earnest surrender in times of helplessness, we profess to be his children, and brothers and sisters of his son. Can any earthly suffering, difficulty, or struggle drown the exalted dignity and glory of this blessing?
In the Gospel, we see Mother Mary treasuring this ‘blessing’. In the simplicity of the nativity scene, we witness humankind’s first encounter with God-made-man and his mother, in the shepherds who hurried to Bethlehem on the instructions of the angel and found he whom they had been told about. God preserved Mary from every stain of sin and made her a worthy mother for his son. Mary received this blessing of the Father, and treasured it in her heart. God not only blessed Mary; he made her a blessing to the nations as well. While hanging on the cross, Jesus gave her to the world as the mother of all believers, entrusting her with the responsibility of taking care of all her children. We, as the followers of Christ, have the responsibility to take Mary into our homes through family devotion, in our hearts through personal prayer, and in our lives through a life lived in imitation of hers. In this new year, may we resemble a little more the Mother of God and our mother, Mary.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 67:2-3,5-6,8 O God, be gracious and bless us.
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