Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this first day of the New Year, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God, or Theotokos, commemorating the Mary’s special role, privilege and honour as the Mother of God, and not just an ordinary mother like any other mothers. Mary is truly the Mother of God just as much as Jesus Christ, her Son, is God Himself. If anyone were to deny that Mary is the Mother of God, then they are in fact also denying the divinity of Jesus.

This title and honour of Mary as the Theotokos, or ‘God-bearer’ in Greek, was already an ancient one by the time of the first Ecumenical Council of the Church at Nicaea, as is the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Our Lord and Saviour. The Church through the Apostles and their successors, guided by the truth and wisdom shown by the Holy Spirit had preserved this truth carefully against all the false ideas and heresies that denied the divinity of the Lord and the divine motherhood of Mary.

At that time, there were those who refused to believe in the divinity of Christ and that Jesus is the Son of God, or those who ascribed that the Son was a created Being, less than equal than the Father, the latter viewpoint as believed by the Arian heretics. In opposition against all these false teachings and ideas were the faithful bishops and all those who remained committed to the true, orthodox Christian faith.

Thus, first of all the bishops gathered and with the support of the Roman Emperor Constantine the Great who was very favourable to the Christian faith, they commenced the first ever Ecumenical Council of the Universal Church at Nicaea, where the Faith itself was formalised and codified into a firm Creed, which we now know as the Nicene Creed, modified at the later Ecumenical Council in Constantinople into the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed that we still use to this day.

The divinity and equality of Jesus Christ with the Father was affirmed and codified into the Canon of the Ecumenical Council of Nicaea, and all the false and heretical teachings such as that of Arius, the founder of the Arian heresy and many others were rejected and condemned as false and heretical. However, with regards to the status of Mary as the Mother of God, it would take yet another century before the issue was definitively settled at another Ecumenical Council.

At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus, another great matter dividing the faithful was the heresy of Nestorianism, which was the belief that the Lord Jesus was distinct in His human and divine nature, just as we believe it to this day, but with an important difference, as they believed that the humanity of Christ was totally distinct and separate, with two wills and two existences.

And this was related to the matter of Mary as the Mother of God because those who sided with Nestorius and his heretical views deemed that Mary could not be the Mother of God as she was just a human being, and that she was just merely the mother of the human Jesus Christ, the person born and distinct from the Son of God, thus, they preferred terms such as Christotokos, or the bearer of Christ, the human Jesus.

This was firmly rejected by all those who held strongly to the true faith, in holding to the view that the Lord Jesus was both Divine and Man, and although distinct in their respective natures, but these two natures are inseparably united in the perfect bond of love in the one person, Jesus Christ. Therefore, this is the core of our belief in the Lord Who exists in two natures, Divine and Man, but united perfectly in one Person, and thus, His mother is also the Mother of God and not just the Mother of Man.

At the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus therefore, the belief in Mary as the Mother of God or Theotokos was finalised and affirmed as a true teaching of the Christian faith, and all the other, dissenting teachings and falsehoods were considered as heresies and were condemned. Today on this Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, we celebrate that great victory of the truth, upholding that Mary truly is God’s own Mother by His incarnation into this world.

It is also very significant that this celebration is held on the eighth or Octave Day of Christmas, the very last day of the Christmas Octave, as the culmination of the peak of our celebrations of Christmas that will still nonetheless continue on with the upcoming Solemnity of the Epiphany. The celebration of the Divine Motherhood of Mary is an affirmation of the significance of Our Lord’s birth into this world, that through Mary, He has assumed our very own human nature, and became Man, that in time to come, He might save us all through His sacrifice on the Cross.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, we honour Mary this day in memory of her faith and obedience to God’s will just as we honour her as the Mother of God. If we love our Lord and Saviour, then naturally we should also love His mother as well. How can we not love her when we say that we love her Son? But even more importantly, we should follow the example and the faith that Mary has shown us, in how she lived and in how she dedicate herself to the Lord.

She committed herself so thoroughly to God and obeyed Him, and dedicated herself to the care of her Son, following Him all the way to the foot of the Cross. And from the Cross, the Lord Himself entrusted her to us by symbolically entrusting her to His disciple St. John, while also entrusting all of us to her to be her beloved children in the same way. Hence, we look upon Mary not just as a distant and unknown woman, but as the loving Mother of Our God, Our Lord and Saviour, and also as our own Mother.

Let us all look at Mary’s way of life and her faith, and spend more time with her, by means of prayers and contemplation, and remind ourselves always to follow her examples in every moments of our lives. As we embark on this new year, let us all start it right by living our lives more and more in accordance with our Christian faith and way of life. And as we continue to celebrate this joyful season of Christmas, let us all focus our efforts and attentions to bring joy to the world, and not just any joy but the true joy of Christ.

May all of us as Christians be the bearers of Christ’s Light and joy, His peace, hope and love into our respective communities, families and to all those whose lives we touch. May Mary, the Blessed Mother of God, our loving Mother, continue to pray for us all sinners and guide us in our journey of faith so that one day, all of us may glorify God together with her, reconciled with her Son and forgiven from our many sins. May God bless us always, now and forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 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.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 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.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 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.

Friday, 1 January 2021 : Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God, 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.”

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, World Day of Prayer for Peace (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we commemorate the beginning of the new year in the reckoning of our calendar, and as we welcome the very first moments of this year, we also remember, as we have done every year, the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, also known as Theotokos, by the virtue of her being the mother of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Today’s celebration is very important for us and for our faith, for in it lies the very basic tenet of our Faith, which even many people over the ages tried to rebuke and disprove in their wrong thoughts and heretical teachings. Chief of all these is Arius, the one who started the heresy of Arianism. In this heresy, those who adhere to its false teachings contended that Jesus was not God, but only mere Man.

For them, the nature of Jesus is as a created being, no different from that of all the other creatures. They did not see Jesus as the Son of God, and therefore much less, as the Divine Word incarnate into Flesh. They refused to believe that He is God, from the beginning until the end and unto all ages. They thought in their feeble minds, that it is impossible for God to bear a Son in Jesus.

And therefore the Church, having recognised the falsehoods of Arius and his followers, a confusion set by the devil himself, set on its way to counter and to fight back this false teaching and vicious heresy. As a result, during the very first Ecumenical Council convened in Nicaea in the year 325 AD, the nature of Christ as the Son of God was established and finalised, and all those who refused to believe in this truth, were cast out as heretics.

And by that virtue, in the later Ecumenical Council, namely the Ecumenical Council held at Ephesus in the year 431 AD proclaimed Mary as the Theotokos, as the Mother of God (Theos). Previously there were also many who believed that Mary is the mother of Jesus, the Man, and as the mother of Christ but no more. There were also those who believed that because Christ is the Lord, both Man and God at the same time, even though Mary His mother was a human being, but by the virtue of being the mother of Jesus Christ, she is also the Mother of God.

This fact cannot be separated from the earlier part of the struggle between the Arians and the faithful Christians, on the nature of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether He is just a Man, or whether He is both God and Man at the same time. If Jesus is just a mere Man, as the Arians had believed, then Mary is no more than just a mother of a great Man and nothing else.

Yet, we all believe in the Motherhood of God, in Mary as the Theotokos, because her Son Jesus is not just a Man, but also God at the same time. He is both fully God and fully Man at the same time, and the two natures, God and Man, while distinct, cannot be separated from each other and they are bound together in perfect hypostatical union in Christ, in perfect love.

This is why I said that this belief in Mary as the Mother of God is central to our faith, and without which I can say that our hold onto our faith is tenuous and weak. And it is also important to take note that this does not make Mary into a deity or a goddess herself. Rather, if we compare it to an earthly analogy, in a kingdom, a king’s mother is honoured even though she does not rule the kingdom as the mother of the king.

Similarly therefore, as God is the King of kings and the Ruler of all the universe, it is by the virtue of His great Kingship that His earthly mother is also honoured in the same way. This is why Mary as the Mother of God had such a special position in our faith and for all of us too. Why is this so? We have to look no further than the Sacred Scriptures in the Gospels themselves.

Firstly, all of us have been entrusted by our Lord to her, just as He entrusted her to all of us. When Jesus was crucified and about to die, He spoke to both His mother Mary and John His beloved disciple, and He entrusted Mary His mother to him, while at the same time He also entrusted him to His mother. In this manner, He had also entrusted all of us to her care, and He entrusted His own mother to be our intercessor and helper.

In the wedding at Cana, where Jesus performed His first miracle of turning water into wine, a miracle we all surely are familiar with, it was because of Mary’s urging and pleas that eventually Jesus allowed Himself to perform His first miracle despite His unwillingness and earlier rejection to help the wedding couple in distress. Mary never gave up in trying to help them, as she knew that the couple was in great trouble if they were to gain no help.

In the same way therefore, Mary is the one who can also help us on our way to the Lord, and whenever we are lost and in trouble, it is to her that we can also turn in order to help ourselves to escape from our predicament. It was said that the best way to reach out to our Lord Jesus is through His mother Mary, and indeed this is true. For Mary, being the closest to the throne of her Son, lies the closest to Him and her prayers are the ones that her own Son will not overlook.

Today, we also celebrate the World Day of Prayer of Peace, as we embark on this new year, let us all pray for world peace, that mankind will no longer seek to destroy and bring pain and suffering to one another, but instead live in harmony and true peace with each other. Let us all ask for the intercession of our Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, that these prayers we make will come to the ears of our Lord, and may He bless us with His peace.

O Lord Jesus, listen to us Your children and Your people, and let us all live in peace, love and harmony, and through Your blessed Mother Mary, who prays for our sake without cease, let peace reign on earth forevermore. Amen.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, 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.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, 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 yourselves are no longer a slave but a son or daughter, and yours is the inheritance by God’s grace.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, 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.

Friday, 1 January 2016 : Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, 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.”