Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (a)
The Season of Christmas.
Sunday 1st January: Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. (a)
Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation, Marialis Cultus, has declared that this celebration ‘is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in the mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which thius mystery brings to the “holy Mother through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life.” It is likewise a fitting occasion for renewing adoration to the newborn Prince of Peace, for listening once more to the glad tidings of the angels and for imploring from God, through the Queen of Peace, the supreme gift of peace. For this reason we have instituted the Worlds Day of Peace.’ (Marialis Cultus 1974)
Monday 2ndJanuary: Memorial of St. Basil and Gregory Nazianzen. Basil was born in 330 of a deeply Christian family (of the ten children, three became bishops). He was educated in Caesarea (where he became a close friend of Gregory) at Constantinople and later in Athens. He entered monastic life and visited numerous monasteries in the East. He went on to found a new monastery where the monks devoted themselves to prayer, intellectual life and manual work. He became Bishop of Caesarea in 370 and was the champion of orthodoxy after the death of St. Athanasius. He specialised especially on the dogmas of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
Gregory also came from a very Christian family. After completing his studies, he reluctantly agreed to be ordained to the priesthood by his father, St. Gregory Nazianzen the Greater, and at the 9nsistence of St. Basil was eventually ordained a Bishop. He spent much of his life in private contemplation, escaping the administrative duties. He presided for a short time over the Council of Constantinople but to avoid dispute and disagreement he resigned. He was nicknamed ‘the theologian’ and spent much of his later life in seclusion and prayer.
Tuesday 3rd January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
In revealing himself, through his Son Jesus, to be Father, God has also revealed that we are his children. This is an invitation or a call to which we must respond in our daily lives.
John the Baptist speaks of Jesus as ‘the lamb of God,’ a title calling to mind the suffering servant from Isaiah. Very often it is other people who shsow us the way to Christ, who bear witness to him. We do the same for others – bear witness and then melt into the background.
Wednesday 4th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
The acid test for us is our love for those around us, those we meet day by day. We cannot call God our Father unless we acknowledge others as our brothers and sisters in Christ. We must ensure we are not led astray.
Some of John’s disciples join Jesus. One of these was Andrew. He, in turn, introduced his brother Simon to him. Like them, we are called to offer Jesus our lives, our hearts, our faith.
Thursday 5th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
John continues his treatise on love. Jesus gave up his life for us; we too should, therefore, be prepared to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. Our love is not just to be empty words or talk but something real and active.
Friday 6th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
John teaches that there are three witnesses to the work of Jesus – the Spirit, the water and the blood. We accept God’s testimony, given as evidence for his Son. He has given us eternal life and this life is in Jesus, his son.
We have the story referred to earlier in the week, the Baptism of Jesus. The Spirit descends on him like a dove and the voice from heaven is heard.
Saturday 7th January: Weekday of the Christmas Season.
We are confident that if we ask the Son of God for anything, it will be given us if it is in accordance with his will.
Jesus begins his mission. He is saddened by the lack of repentance and spirituality that he sees.
Star of Wonder, Star of Night,
Star of royal beauty bright;
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.