READINGS: Numbers 6:22-27 / Galatians 4:4-7/ Luke 2:16-21
Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God

Every new day is a gift of God for which we should be grateful to Him. Moreover, a New Year is a special gift which should elicit our heartfelt gratitude to God.

Secondly, it also fitting to seek God’s blessings including progress in diverse human endeavours on New Year Day. Progress, however, cannot be made if there is no peace. Hence, the Church has set aside this day to talk about and pray for peace. Let us pray for peace in our nation and the world, especially, that the Israeli-Hamas and Russian-Ukraine wars will end within a few months into 2024.  As we do so, let us resolve to be agents of peace by promoting justice and other human rights which are based on the will of our Creator.

Thirdly, on every New Year Day, our Church celebrates the solemn feast of Mary as the Mother of God. The rest of this homily will deal with the solemn feast.

Until my ordination as priest, my mother’s neighbours called her either Auntie Kate or Auntie Esi. However, subsequently, having assumed the priestly title, “Father”, people referred to my mother as “Father’s Mother”.  Similarly, with the realization that Jesus Christ is not only human but the very Son of God, some early Christians referred to His mother, Mary, as the “Mother of God”.

Now, long before the Church officially used the title of “Mother of God”, the Holy Spirit had inspired St. Elizabeth to call her then young cousin, Mary, “the Mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43).  And the circumstance in which Elizabeth made this proclamation makes the revelation of God’s favour on the Blessed Virgin Mary more amazing.  That is, even before the Blessed Virgin Mary could inform Elizabeth about the good news she had received from the angel Gabriel, and even before Mary had any external sign of pregnancy, Elizabeth could exclaim: “why is it that the Mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:43)?

Here, the title “Lord” is in reference to the fact that the Child of Mother Mary is divine. That is, the word “Lord” as used by St. Elizabeth is not in the same sense as used for bishops, judges or kings.  If this is not clear to some people, the testimony of the doubting Thomas may settle the matter.  When St. Thomas eventually saw the risen Lord Jesus, he did not simply say, “My Lord”, rather he exclaimed: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).

That Jesus Christ is God is evident in many New Testament passages. However, may it suffice to refer to only the first chapter of St. John’s Gospel. This is the testimony of St. John: “in the beginning was the Word (Christ) and the Word (Christ) was with God. And the Word (Christ) was God” (John 1:1).

Subsequently, at the appointed time, in order to save us, “the Word (Christ) became flesh (man) and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) through conception and birth by the Blessed Virgin Mary (Gal. 4:4-7).

Furthermore, it may be necessary to clarify that by referring to St. Mary as the “Mother of God”, we do not imply that she gave birth to the Son of God before the world was created. Not at all! Rather, what we mean is that when the eternal Son of God was to become man, it was St. Mary who conceived and gave birth to Him. Thus, on the one hand, St. Mary is honoured with the title of “Mother of God”, because of who Jesus Christ has always been: the Son of God. On the other hand, since Mary is human, this title informs us that our Saviour, though divine, became truly human (cf. Phil. 2:5-11).

Let us, now, conclude with some prayerful wishes for the New Year:

  • May Christ, who though divine became human, continue to bless us with His power as God! Amen!
  • May He, who experienced suffering as a man, but saved us with His power as God, continue to deliver us from evil. Amen!
  • May He who gave His mother, Mary, to us as our mother (John 19:26-27), favour our families throughout the New Year, as He once blessed the couple at Cana (John 2:1-11), when His mother interceded! Amen!

Finally, I wish you all a peaceful, progressive and prosperous New Year!

By Most Rev. John Kobina Louis

Bishop John Kobina Louis

Most Rev. John Kobina Louis is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana. More about him here.

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Catholic Homilies and Sermons for the Liturgical Year by Most Rev. John Kobina Louis, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Accra, Ghana.

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