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Homily for the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God

30 Dec 2016, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

pregnant-maryMy heart is filled with joy and thanksgiving as we begin a new year; it is not by might that we are counted among the living but by the grace of God. Beginning the year with the solemnity of Mary the Mother of God is such a wonderful blessing to the world; the Lord bless you and keep you, the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, the Lord lift his countenance upon you and give you peace. So shall you call down the blessings of God upon yourself, your family, your friends, and upon this new year, through Christ our Lord.

‘The Mother of God’ is a title reserved for the Blessed Virgin Mary alone, no one ever and will ever be called the Mother of God apart from Mary. No wonder in her Magnificat she proclaimed: the Almighty has done great things for me, Holy is his name (Lk:49). This is a mystery; a handmaid, a creature, gave birth to her creator. This sounds unbelievable, but it is a reality that he, who has no beginning, was born in time. Mary was found worthy of God’s being used to make the eternal word take flesh; she is the Mother of God because her Son Jesus is God. We honor her today with great joy because God honored her first.

Some people criticize the Catholic Church for calling the Blessed Virgin Mary the Mother of God, but that is who she is, the mother of God. To deny that she is the mother of God is to deny the divinity of Jesus Christ. Anyone who says Mary is not the mother of God is directly saying that Jesus is not God. If Jesus is God, and Mary carried him in her womb for nine months and gave birth to him, then she is the mother of God. It is difficult to believe that a woman gave birth to God, but that is the mystery of God’s love for you. He humbled himself not just to be born by mere mortal but to be born amongst animals. That was where the shepherds found them; the shepherds hurried away to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph and the baby lying in the manger.

The incarnation of the Son of God is a mystery, something beyond our understanding. The mystery of the incarnation should not lead us to doubt but to praise and worship God. His love for us is a mystery; he humbled himself to be born of a woman because he loves us so much. This love endures forever, and it is new every morning. It is the power of this love that brings us to the beginning of 2017, and it is the power of the same love that will lead us through the year.

Today, the Catholic Church celebrates Mary as the mother of God; indeed, she is the mother of God. We celebrate her as such, not because she is older and greater than God but because God decided to humble himself to save us. Though the title “Mother of God” is reserved for Mary alone, we all are called Mothers, brothers, and sisters of Jesus Christ. Mary is Mother of God today because she, first of all, carried Jesus in her heart before she carried him in her womb. You and I may not be able to carry Jesus in our wombs, but we can surely carry him in our hearts. Jesus said, my mother and my brethren are those who hear the word of God and do it (Lk. 8:21). Mary heard the word of God and treasured it in her heart, and then gave birth to the word. We, too, must hear the word of God and not only treasure it in our hearts but also give birth to the word by doing it. There is no better time to give birth to the word of God in our lives than today, this moment, and the beginning of the year. Like Joshua, we must boldly step into the land that the Lord has given us; the Lord has given us this year, and we must conquer it with the help of God.

After Moses’s death, God said to Joshua; Moses, my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all these people, into the land I am giving to them, to the people of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, as I promised to Moses (Josh. 1:2-3). God never called Joshua until Moses died; Joshua’s time had to come for him to be called. Last year is gone, dead. This is a new year, a year for you to arise like Joshua and possess the promise of God. Do not be afraid. The Lord that led you into this new year will not leave you all by yourself. You are alive today not by your own making but by his grace, his favor. The Angel said to Mary, “do not be afraid; you have found favor with the Lord.”

As we begin this new year, I wish you all the good things of life through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

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