OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Holy Mary, Mother of God (Year A)

In one sense we cram a lot of things together in today’s solemnity: whether we succeed or not is open to debate! Today is New Year’s Day, a time to pray for the year to come and hope for God’s blessing. It is the Octave Day of Christmas, when we continue to reflect on the meaning of the child in the manger. It is the day of Jesus’ circumcision, according to the Law of Moses, and the day on which he was given the name that the angel had announced to Mary. And the name of this day tells us that it is given to Mary, mother of Jesus, God-made-man – not in any other aspect of her life (such as the Annunciation, the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception), but celebrated simply as Mother of the Redeemer. Perhaps it is the person of Mary the Mother who can unite all these “themes”: she who trusted in God’s promises received blessings from the Lord; as mother she invites us to look over her shoulder with the shepherds and recognise her child, not just as a wonderful new life, but as the one who (in fulfillment of the Scriptures) is proclaimed as “Jesus” – a name which means “God saves.”

From the Catechism

Notes for Readers

Jesus Christ, true God and true Man
CCC 464-469

Mary is the Mother of God
CCC 495, 2677

Our adoption as sons
CCC 1, 52, 270, 294, 422, 654, 1709, 2009

Jesus submits to the Law, and perfects it
CCC 527, 577-582

The New Law frees from restrictions of the Old Law
CCC 580, 1972

In the Holy Spirit we can call God “Abba”
CCC 683, 689, 1695, 2766, 2777-2778

The name of Jesus
CCC 430-435, 2666-2668, 2812:

495: "Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus", Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos)"
First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27

At first glance this has nothing to do with Mary, Mother of God, and the danger is that your listeners, if they are paying attention, may think the same thing! Your first responsibility as reader, therefore, is to be deliberate and confident: this reading is very short – please make sure it isn’t lost in the shuffling as people settle after the Opening Prayer! When everyone is ready, say very deliberately “A reading from the book of Numbers” and then pause. In a way you are about to proclaim a New Year’s Blessing on your congregation! For this reason, emphasise the word “bless…” in the first sentence. Normally we talk about the word “you” in the context of the second reading: today it applies to this. If you can look up to your congregation when saying “May the Lord bless you…” it will help them to hear what Moses is saying! Save some confidence for the last four words – “I will bless them”

Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

On one level, this is a very dense little reading: it is about the birth of Christ, the fulfilment of prophecy, Baptism and Confirmation, membership of the Church and salvation. Rather a lot in six lines! A way of understanding it is to ask this question: “What do we mean when we say that Mary is ‘Mother of God’?” This is Saint Paul’s answer to that question. Since it is very dense, you have to take your time – it’s almost like ticking off points on a list. Don’t try and read each sentence as a sentence – that will just lose the listener. Keep it steady and simple. Remember that the key point in this reading is understanding how the birth of Christ relates to us.