Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God

(Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21)

Most people watching television at midnight today heard the old Scottish song “Auld Lang Syne.”  The words mean “old long since” or, more sensibly, “past times” and refer to the need to recall the people and events that shape men and women into who they are.  The song is appropriately sung on New Year as people launch into a new beginning sometimes unappreciative of their families who raised them, their teachers who guided them, and their friends who helped them.  Although by no means a religious hymn, “Auld Lang Syne” fits into the theme of today’s liturgical celebration.

Today’s feast is called the “Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.”  The title, proclaimed by the Church at the ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431, actually says more about Jesus than about his mother.  Prior to the declaration, there was a raging debate about how Jesus can be both God and human.  Some thought that he is in effect two persons -- one divine and the other human -- such that Mary can be said to be the mother of Jesus, the man, but not of God.  That position was condemned at the council which recognized Jesus as one divine person with both a human and a divine nature.  Mary then is truly “Mother of God.”

Because Jesus is like the rest of humankind, we can relate to him as a friend who truly knows our joys and troubles.  He will not forget us in our needs for he too experienced “auld lang syne,” or times past when he was assisted by those around him.  But let us not forget to call upon him for help throughout the year beginning today.