The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
+ * + * +
Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son,
and if a son then also an heir, through God.
+ * + * +
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.
+ * + * +
Today is the octave day of Christmas, that is the eighth day since the feast of the Nativity of Jesus. It is the oldest feast honoring Mary. The gospel passage for this feast is same as the Christmas Mass at Dawn, which tells of the visit of the shepherds to Mary's new born son, Jesus.
For this feast, the verses telling of Jesus being brought to the temple on the eighth day to be circumcised and given the name Jesus is added. Until recently, this day was called the feast of the Circumcision of Jesus. Today the focus for this feast is on Mary as Mother of God, and has the importance of solemnity.
In the first centuries, the Church struggled with the question of the true nature of Jesus. Was he merely a man, albeit, the greatest of all the prophets that God had raised up. Or was he much more, indeed, did he share in the very divinity of God?
The First Council of Nicaea in 325, declared that the Son was true God, co-eternal with the Father and begotten from His same substance, arguing that such a doctrine best codified the Scriptural presentation of the Son as well as traditional Christian belief about him handed down from the Apostles. This belief was expressed by the bishops in the Creed of Nicaea, which would form the basis of what has since been known as the Nicene Creed.
The Church quickly realized that since Jesus is both man and God, and since Mary in her womb and gave birth to Jesus, it is right to call her, Mother of God - Theotokos - the womb that held within it the one who is both human and divine.
This is a great mystery of faith. In the 2nd Reading, Paul sees in this mystery God's wonderful plan for our humanity.
As we begin a new calendar year - which reminds us that we are moving ever closer to our ultimate destiny, let us keep these things foremost in our thoughts:
- Jesus came from the divine to enter into our lowly humanity.
- He leads us back through our communion in his humanity to share in his divinity.
- So in baptism, we mere humans are born again and now we share in the divinity of Jesus.
- By our rebirth in Jesus, it is right to speak of Mary, mother of Jesus, as our mother as well.
- Jesus the son of God is our brother, dear to us as we are to him.
- That Mary is our heavenly mother, caring for us with the love and protection of a devoted and loving Mother.
- Think of ourselves, not as some weak and failing piece of humanity, headed for the grave, but as a royal child of God the FATHER, beloved as Jesus is loved, protected in the arms of Mary our mother, destined to live in this family for all eternity.
+ * + * +
January 1, 2015, WORLD DAY OF PRAYER FOR PEACE
Celebrated on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, 1 January, the World Day of Peace was introduced in 1967 by Pope Paul VI.
The message's theme is “No Longer Slaves, but Brothers and Sisters". Pope Francis highlights the issue of human trafficking and modern slavery.
This year's theme is drawn from Saint Paul’s letter to Philemon, in which the Apostle asks his co-worker to welcome Onesimus, formerly Philemon’s slave, now a Christian and, therefore, according to Paul, worthy of being considered a brother. The Apostle of the Gentiles writes: “Perhaps this is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back for ever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother” (vv. 15-16).
In his message he says "We know that God will ask each of us: What did you do for your brother? (cf. Gen 4:9-10). The globalization of indifference, which today burdens the lives of so many of our brothers and sisters, requires all of us to forge a new worldwide solidarity and fraternity capable of giving them new hope and helping them to advance with courage amid the problems of our time and the new horizons which they disclose and which God places in our hands".
(from Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.)
Here is a link to Pope Francis message for this 2015 Day of Prayer for Peace - LINK