Wednesday, 1 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day, the first day of this new year, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Theotokos, or Mary as the Mother of God. This is celebrated on the eighth and last day of the Christmas Octave, to remember the very important and crucial role that Mary played in the history of our salvation and in Christmas, because she became the Mother of God by bearing Jesus Christ, Son of God in her.

This teaching and dogma of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, the Theotokos or Mother of God was formalised and made official at the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in the year 431, out of the great debate of whether Mary was just the Mother of Jesus Christ the Man, or whether she was also the Mother of God because Jesus Christ is both God and Man, having both human nature and divine nature united in His one person.

During that time, the disagreements in the Church was led on one side by the Patriarch of Constantinople, Nestorius, who championed the preference to call Mary as Christotokos or Christ-Bearer or Mother of Christ rather than Theotokos or God-Bearer or Mother or God. Although it may have seemed trivial to us as merely involving a variation in the honorary names and titles of Mary, but theologically the two titles highlighted a very fundamental and critical difference in a very core part of our Christian faith.

I am referring to the fact that by denying Mary the title of Theotokos and preferring Christotokos as proposed by the supporters of Nestorius actually also affected the nature of Christ as if Mary is not the Mother of God, but only the mother of Christ the Man, then Jesus’ humanity and divinity cannot have been united in His one persona, but are distinct and separate. This is the view and school of thought championed by Nestorius and his supporters.

The opponents of Nestorius and the champions of orthodoxy held the view that as Christ has two natures which are distinct and yet united in one person of Christ, then Mary who bore Him in her womb and gave birth to Him must also be the Mother of God, as if the humanity of Christ is united perfectly with His divinity, though distinct, then one cannot accept that Jesus is both Man and God without also proclaiming His mother Mary as the Mother of God.

To say that Mary is just the mother of Christ or Christotokos rather than the Mother of God goes against the logic that Mary bore Christ into this world fully in being, giving birth to Jesus Christ, her Son, both God and Man, and she could not have just borne Christ the Man without also bearing His divinity. To imply in any way that Mary is not the Mother of God also in truth denies Christ’s unique two natures united in one person as the true, orthodox faith of the Apostles had always held.

Therefore the debate surrounding the dogma of Theotokos or the Mary as the Mother of God was truly serious as it affected the nature of Christ and His salvation, as heresies of that time had threatened to break the Church apart, with some contending that by Nestorius’ proposition, only Jesus the Man suffered and died on the Cross as God could not have suffered or died, contrary to the true teaching of the faith. This was brought about by the disagreement over the nature of Christ’s humanity and divinity which extends to whether Mary was the Mother of God or just the Mother of Christ.

We may think again that these disagreements may sound trivial and small in importance, but we must really understand and appreciate that the faith as we know it today came about only after many rounds of challenges, divisions, disagreements and heresies trying to misled members of the faithful throughout the long history of the Church, including this disagreement on the Theotokos or Mary as the Mother of God.

During those especially early critical years of the Church, many heresies came about because of the existence of many divergent schools of thought and idea that often disagreed on each other on the nature of Christ’s divinity, on whether His humanity and divinity are united inseparably, or separate into two different and disunited existence, or whether as what we hold in our true faith, that His humanity and divinity exists, though distinct, but united perfectly in the one person of Jesus.

The bitter divisions and divergence in the teachings were threatening the unity of the Church and the salvation of many souls, and that was why, the Ecumenical Councils of the Church, beginning with the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, and eventually to the one we focus on today, the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, began codifying and underlining the true and fundamental truths and orthodoxy in faith which we preserve in the Church until today.

Eventually, the supporters of Nestorius lost and the heresy was officially condemned in the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus which made canon and officially declared Mary as Theotokos, the Mother of God. And we rejoice today because of this great blessing which God has bestowed on us all through His mother, the very Mother of God so many of us Christians for ages have entrusted ourselves and devoted ourselves to.

Imagine, brothers and sisters in Christ, how we have the Mother of God herself as our greatest intercessor, as the one who constantly loves us and cares for us, that she, who sits closest to her Son’s throne in heaven, always constantly intercedes for our sake. And being the Mother of God, therefore, it means that she is truly honoured, just as how the kings of Israel and Judah of old honoured their mothers.

We devote ourselves to Mary and ask her for her intercession because we know that through Mary, we have the surest and most direct path to her Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. God Himself entrusted His mother Mary to us from the Cross, when He entrusted her to the care of His disciple, St. John, representing us the Universal Church, and then also entrusted him, again representing the Church, to Mary, His mother.

That is why Mary was always present throughout the history of the Church, in her many apparitions, several of which have been officially approved by the Church, especially appearing at the important juncture in our history and in moments of great darkness, calling on us mankind to turn back towards her Son and to repent from our many sins and evils. And we have to be thankful for the love that she has shown us, the same love with which she loved her Son from all her loving heart.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we also look up to Mary as our greatest role model, for her great faith and obedience to the will of God throughout her life. We should imitate her example and faith, dedicating ourselves to God through her and by following her inspiring dedication, in giving her whole self to serve the Lord and to glorify Him in all things. Are we able to do this, brothers and sisters?

Today, we are also called to keep in mind peace in our world, as today we also mark the World Day of Prayer for Peace, as we begin this new year with a new hope for the whole world for the cessation of conflict and wars, which have brought the worst out of us mankind, causing untold sufferings and destructions. All these wars, conflicts and disagreements, just like the disagreements we just went through in detail earlier on the nature of Mary as the Mother of God, are caused by man’s pride and greed.

As long as we allow ourselves to be swayed by ego and pride, ambition and greed, to be tempted by the many temptations found in this world, listening to the lies and corrupt teachings championed by the devil and his allies and supporters, there will always be divisions, conflicts, sufferings and trials in our world. And this is where, by following Mary and devoting ourselves to her, to imitate her faith and examples, we can break the unending chain of suffering and conflicts.

Let us all ask for Mary to intercede for us, for the Church and for the world, that through her intercession, God may bring His peace into this world, for He is the Prince of Peace promised to us all. And let us all get rid from ourselves all sorts of ego, of pride, of hubris and ambition, of greed and desires, and instead, put God once again at the centre of our lives and make Him the reason of our existence in this world.

May God continue to bless us, bless His Church and bless this world He has created and provided for us. May His mother Mary, Theotokos, the Mother of God also continue to inspire us all His faithful ones, that we may follow in her footsteps and draw ever closer to her Son, Jesus Christ, Son of God, our Lord and Saviour. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 16-21

So the shepherds came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him, they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the Angels had told them.

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the Angel had given Him before He was conceived.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son. He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God.

And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! That is, Father! You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Wednesday, 1 January 2020 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God and World Day of Prayer for Peace (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say : May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!”

“In that way they put My Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Octave Day of Christmas and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we celebrate a great feast of the Church, the Marian feast of Theotokos, Mother of God, as well as this day as the day of universal prayer for the peace in the world. On this day, also the first day of this new year of our Lord 2015, we give thanks to God for the past year, for all that He had done for us, the wonders and graces He had provided us in the year that had passed.

And on this New Year’s Day too, we ought to look forward and see in this new year to come, an ample opportunity for us to do what we have not been able to do in the previous year, and thus we have to reflect and evaluate on our own lives, our ways of life and how we interact with one another. This new year should begin with a new resolution on our side to achieve peace in this world, a lasting peace without hatred and violence, and one that is inspired by the examples of the Blessed Mother of our Lord, Mary.

For Mary is our role model, both in life and in how we should be faithful to the Lord. She is special amongst men and all who were created by God, for firstly she is the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and therefore as He is both fully God and fully Man, she is by that virtue is the Mother of God, or in the original Greek, Theotokos, and it is this nature and title bestowed on Mary, the faithful servant of God, that we rejoice together as one Church.

There are unfortunately those who failed to understand this nature of Mary, and the great role she had played in the history of the salvation of mankind. They refused to honour her and glorify her, because they thought that in doing so they have idolises her and made her as if to be a goddess. But they were mistaken in this, and that was the lie that Satan tried to propagate in order to destroy the Church and harm the faithful ones.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, why do we honour Mary such, with many titles and graces? Why do we call her the Blessed Virgin Mary? Should we not honour man but God only? If we look deeper at the Scriptures and its meaning, then we will understand. Mary herself mentioned in the Magnificat, the prayer of rejoicing and revelry at the fulfillment of God’s promise through her, that she was blessed for all ages because of what God had done through her.

And we honour Mary as the mother of God because in Jesus we see the true, complete, full and perfect unity between the Divinity of which He is God, part of God and is truly God, limitless and omnipotent, and the Humanity, of which He was made into Flesh, the flesh of Man by the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary is the mother of Jesus, both God and Man at the same time, fully God and fully Man, without separation, distinct in the two natures of divine and humanity, but united in the one person of Jesus Christ.

Those who deem Mary as a ‘goddess’ that we worship, do not make sense at all. If Mary is a goddess, then truly, where would the humanity of Christ come from? Indeed, God is almighty and it would truly be a trivial matter for Him to come directly in the form of Man if He so wished, but He chose to come through the woman, so that what God had revealed to man at the beginning of time might come to its full completion.

God said to Satan, in the serpent, and to the first woman, Eve, that he would bite the heels of the sons of the woman, while the woman will crush the serpent under her feet. Satan had introduced sin to men, and ever since that moment of rebelliousness and disobedience, men had fallen into sin, and apparently with no hope of rescue or escape, that is until the Woman came and made full God’s promises.

That woman is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She obeyed the Lord fully and let herself be used for the entire purpose of God, and as such, where Eve had failed, succumbing to her own vanity and personal desires for knowledge and more, Mary had succeeded and her examples became the source of inspiration for many. Mary remained faithful and committed to the Lord, to her Son and followed Him unto even His death on the cross.

Mary played such an important role in our Faith, as she was not merely just the mother of Jesus the Man, but also as the mother of the Word incarnate into flesh through her. The divinity and humanity of Jesus are completely and perfectly united in His person, two distinct natures but one person. Anyone who rejects this truth deviates from the teachings of Christ and is a heretic.

Such was the case with Arius, the famous preacher who would eventually be known for his role in the rise of the Arian heresy, where the rejection of the divinity of Christ was becoming commonplace, and this heresy was born out of the confusion that the devil spread in order to make the people unable to comprehend how Jesus could be both Divine and yet also Man at the same time.

If we look at the Scriptures, in the Holy Gospels, Jesus did things that both Man and the Divine do. He ate with His disciples, drank with them, was affected by sorrow and sadness, and He wept, yes for Lazarus, the one whom He was close friend with, when he apparently died from his sickness. Yet, at the same moment, He brought Lazarus back to life, healed the sick and forgave the sins of many, which are things that only God can do.

Thus, Jesus is truly fully Man and fully God, and it never occurred anywhere in the Gospels that the two natures were separate, but the two were always together. It was not merely the human Jesus that suffered for us on the cross, for no man could have born the entirety of the weight of the world’s sins, but God indeed can do so, and it was Jesus, both God and Man, who carried that cross up to Calvary and die for our sins, that we may live.

And if Jesus is both God and Man, then it is perfectly fine for Mary to be called the Mother of God, and that was what the Ecumenical Council at Nicaea in the year of our Lord 325 had affirmed in Faith, that Mary as the Mother of Jesus, is the Mother of God. Then, how is this relevant to us, brethren? That is because, Mary is our role model, and she is also our mother. For Mary has been set aside by God to be the mother of Jesus and in her works and actions, she became our example.

If all mankind are to follow the examples of Mary, then this world would have been so much better. No more violence, no more hatred, for if all were to follow Mary’s examples, they should have been filled with love, both for God and their fellow men, and not with hatred or evil. That is why, on this day, the day when Pope St. John XXIII dedicated his last Papal Encyclical, Pacem in Terris or Peace on Earth, this day is a day which we should dedicate with much prayer for the sake of peace in the world.

That time, the world had just been on the brink of a great nuclear war between the two superpowers of the world, and war had been avoided just because of very tense diplomacy between both sides. The threat of annihilation of countless peoples was just very great, one that we may not be familiar with today. Thus, as we begin this new year today, let us all pray together as one people, one Church, and all belonging to the house of the Lord, that peace, the peace of Christ may reign over all and the world, that it may dispel the evils that Satan had planted in this world and in us.

Jesus had entrusted Mary to John, His disciple, and that singular act is a great action of God entrusting His own mother to be the mother of us all. Let us thus, ask Mary, the Theotokos, the Mother of our Lord and God, who is also our Mother, to pray for all of us, for she, even though not a god nor goddess but a human being, being closest to the throne of her Son in heaven, she may intercede for us and gain for us the richness of the mercy and grace of our God. God bless us all. Amen.

First Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-first-reading/

Psalm :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-psalm/

Second Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-second-reading/

Gospel Reading :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-gospel-reading/

Epistle (Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord) :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/usus-antiquior-feast-of-the-circumcision-of-our-lord-octave-day-of-christmas-double-ii-classis-thursday-1-january-2015-epistle/

Gospel (Feast of the Circumcision of the Lord) :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/usus-antiquior-feast-of-the-circumcision-of-our-lord-octave-day-of-christmas-double-ii-classis-thursday-1-january-2015-holy-gospel/

Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Octave Day of Christmas and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Gospel Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Luke 2 : 16-21

At that time, after the angels appeared to the shepherds, they came hurriedly, and found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in the manger. On seeing Him they related what they had been told about the Child, and all were astonished on hearing the shepherds.

As for Mary, she treasured all these words, and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds then returned, giving glory and praise to God for all they had heard and seen, just as the angels had told them.

On the eighth day the circumcision of the Baby had to be performed; He was named Jesus, the Name the angel had given Him before He was conceived.

Homily and Reflection :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Octave Day of Christmas and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Second Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Galatians 4 : 4-7

But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son, He came born of woman and subject to the Law, in order to redeem the subjects of the Law, that we might receive adoption as children of God. And because you are children, God has sent into your hearts the Spirit of His Son which cries out : Abba! that is, Father!

You yourself are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Homily and Reflection :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Octave Day of Christmas and World Day of Prayer for Peace (Psalm)

Liturgical Colour : White

Psalm 66 : 2-3, 5, 6 and 8

May God be gracious and bless us; may He let His face shine upon us, that Your way be known on earth and Your salvation among the nations.

May the countries be glad and sing for joy, for You rule the peoples with justice and guide the nations of the world.

May the peoples praise You, o God, may all the peoples praise You! May God bless us and be revered, to the very ends of the earth.

Homily and Reflection :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-homily-and-scripture-reflections/

Thursday, 1 January 2015 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Octave Day of Christmas and World Day of Prayer for Peace (First Reading)

Liturgical Colour : White

Numbers 6 : 22-27

Then YHVH spoke to Moses saying, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and say to them : This is how you shall bless the people of Israel; you shall say : May YHVH bless you and keep you! May YHVH let His face shine on you, and be gracious to you! May YHVH look kindly on you, and give you His peace!”

“In that way shall they put My Name on the people of Israel and I will bless them.”

Homily and Reflection :
https://petercanisiusmichaeldavidkang.com/2014/12/31/thursday-1-january-2015-solemnity-of-the-blessed-virgin-mary-mother-of-god-octave-day-of-christmas-and-world-day-of-prayer-for-peace-homily-and-scripture-reflections/