Mary, Mother of God, Year C

We have two beautiful homilies by Father Hanly for Mary, Mother of God, Year C: “Mother of God” and “Mary, Mother of God.”

Two Homilies:

 
Mother of God

Mother of God

In this wonderful homily for Mary, Mother of God, Year C, Father Hanly shows us how to learn from Mary what it means to be a true disciple, not just in name, but in fact and in practice.

Readings for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Year C

  • First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
  • Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
  • Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

Recording

Transcript

It’s very fitting that we should, as part of our Christmas celebration, have a special day to honour Mary, our Mother.

You notice that the gospel is really a gospel of Christmas, and it’s very simple. It takes place after the shepherds have heard from the angel that, tonight in Bethlehem, there has been born to you a child, and you will find him wrapped in swaddling clothes and laying in a manger. And this is good news, and great news, for the Messiah has been given to you.

It’s amazing when you think of it, if you stop to think of it, this happening – the birth of the Messiah, the birth of the Christos, the Holy One of God, the birth of the Son of God Himself – takes place in such humble surroundings.

And, of course, that is to teach us that anything worthwhile in life is worthwhile because we can accept it with humble hearts and grateful hearts and hearts filled with thanksgiving to a lovely God who so loved the world that He gives us His only Son, that we might put our faith in him and attain eternal life.

The shepherds, the angels, the humble carpenter, the teenage mother and a baby in a trough for cattle has become the centre piece of most people’s understanding of what is the best and the most wonderful thing of life itself.

For it is all there: the helpless child crying out, the teenage mother who lifts him up to herself, suckles him at her breast, feeds him, comforts him, wipes his tears.

And all this while she herself is overwhelmed by the knowledge that the child she holds to herself is the One who has created herself. For the child is the child of God and is God Himself.

And then we begin to understand that all life is blessed, all life is holy and the only time you can fully realise it is when we accept ourselves for what we are – the child within us, the one who needs help from others, who needs love from others, who needs care from others.

The one that kind of in another way struts about the stage pretending that we’re important or that we have very important things to do or that we have to do this and that and achieve this and that, is all destroyed by the simple scene at Christmas. For all they found was a carpenter, a mother and a child in a manger.

Mary, I think, has been a part of every Catholic’s life ever since we were old enough to learn how to pray. In fact, after the Our Father, my father would teach us all the Hail Mary. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” And then Elizabeth, “And blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” — and the fruit of your womb is the Messiah, the One who saves the world.

It must have been overwhelming for the little family. And you would think, because of it, that God would rain all kinds of wonderful gifts upon them, give them an easy road — and they didn’t even have a place to lay the child because there was no room for them in Bethlehem.

And Joseph dreams the dream, and he must take his wife into a foreign country with the child, into a land where they could not speak the language, did not know the customs, and hiding from a king who was supposed to be a king of Israel, a king who had set out to destroy this child and destroy all the sweet little innocent children under two years old in Bethlehem and in the surrounding area.

And then when the angel came to Joseph again and said, “Take the child back but do not go back to Bethlehem”, because another son of Herod was there, just as cruel and just as ruthless, and so they went to Nazareth, and the child grew.

Mary we know as the Mother of God. That is her title and that is what she is.

But she has to become something else. She has to become a disciple.

She is given the gift of the maternity, of conceiving and bearing the Messiah, but she has to learn how to become a disciple, just as every one of us has to learn not just to receive the child with great joy, but we must learn how to become a disciple.

And her lesson is very hard. Remember last Sunday’s Gospel, they took the child Jesus, now eleven or twelve years old, into the temple of Jerusalem and he was lost for three days to them.

And when they found him, Mary said to the child quite in anger, “What have you done to us? We have been searching for you for three days. And your father and I have had great pain and sorrow.”

And Jesus looked at her and said, “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house? I must be doing my Father’s business.”

And there’s the first lesson: a disciple puts God first, not family first, not mother, not father. Jesus himself puts his Father first. And that is the basic rule. If you are going to become a disciple, as Jesus calls us to be disciples, you must learn to put God first, and everyone else must stand in line.

The next time, they go to Cana. They go to Cana and now Jesus is all grown up and he’s about ready to move into his public life.

And there is a wedding at Cana. And Mary notices that the bride and groom are embarrassed because the wine is running out. And she says to Jesus, “They have no wine.”

And Jesus says to her, “What are we supposed to do? What is that to me and to you?”

And she knows that she’s about to learn the second lesson, for she goes immediately to the servants and says, “Whatever he tells you to do, do it.”

And Jesus comes and he tells the servants to take ordinary water and put it into the wine vessels and then bring that water to the head of the wedding.

And then when they do that, the head of the wedding says, “This wine is better than all the wine that we had so far.”

And what did Mary learn?

Mary learned a disciple must learn how to serve. A disciple must learn how to serve not his own needs, but the needs of the people that he reaches out.

A wedding is a joyous occasion. A wedding brings two courageous people giving themselves for their whole lives to each other, not taking back, no conditions. And Jesus understands this, and Jesus helps them to celebrate.

That is the second lesson.

And then the third lesson is even harder. Because while she’s approaching Jesus — who was crowded by many, by this time people are crowded around him — and she wants to see him and members of the crowd went up to Jesus and say, “Your mother is seeking you.”

Probably she wants to bring him home because she begins to understand that Jesus is not accepted in very important places of authority, and that already there is a plot to destroy him.

But Jesus says to those who came – he turns to all the people listening to him as he speaks to them the Word of God and he says to them — “Who is my mother? Who is my father? Who are my sisters? Who is my brother? Those that hear the Word of God with their heart and put it into practice. That is my mother, that is my father, that is my family.”

The words must have been very hard for Mary to hear that, but he asks her to do one more thing: the disciple must hear the Word of God and keep it. It’s not enough just to be baptised. It’s not enough to go through a few paces on a Sunday morning. You must hear the Word of God in your heart and put it into practice in your life.

And, of course, that road goes one way and she stays with him, giving her faith, keeping all these things in her heart, not doubting for a moment that she is to accept all that happens. And it leads to Calvary and it leads to the cross.

And then remember, on the cross, Jesus is reaching the very end of his suffering, of his self-sacrificing love, and he says …

Looking down he sees his mother and he sees his favourite disciple. That’s what John says. He doesn’t call him John – his disciple, the model for all disciples that would follow.

And he says to his mother, “Behold your son.”

And then he says to his disciple, “Behold your mother.”

And from that day on, John the Evangelist writes, John took her to himself and she became the Mother, the mother not just in a physical birth, but the mother of all the disciples that was to follow.

All down through the ages everyone will rightfully call themselves … the Mother of God is my mother, for Jesus, her Son, has given her to us as our mother.

And that is why we say of Mary, “Great is Mary,” because God has blessed her.

Great is Mary because God has conceived in her womb the Messiah, God Himself.

But she’s not great for that. She’s really great because she hears the Word of God and keeps it.

She reaches out to all those in need and in pain. She understands loneliness. She understands sorrow. She understands wonder and joy and happiness, and seeing what is achieved.

And what is achieved is how to learn to love, how to learn to care, how to go out of one’s way and accept the fact that we need each other like little children and babies in Bethlehem. We need each other’s love, we need each other’s care, but most of all, we must grow into lovers and carers. And this is what Mary even today who is with us, Mother Mary.

I’d like to end this now with another example of it which is very close by. Right next to us, if you haven’t noticed, they have redone the grotto in honour of our Lady of Lourdes, and there is little Bernadette.

Over a hundred years ago, Bernadette sees Mary in a grotto. She sees Mary and then she writes what she sees. And this is what she writes:

“The Lady looked at me,
The Lady smiled at me,
The Lady said to me,
‘My little child, come closer.’’”

That is what God is telling us.

Let us draw near to his mother, Mary.

Let us draw near and learn from her what it means to be a true disciple, not just in name, but in fact and in practice.

And that, of course, is not only the secret of Christmas, it’s the secret of life itself. For we are all called to one vocation and one vocation only, to be the disciples of Jesus, our Lord and our God.


 
Mary, Mother of God

Mary, Mother of God

In this beautiful homily for Mary, Mother of God, Year C, Father Hanly looks at the gentle girl-child who becomes the Mother of God and then mother to us all.

Readings for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Year C

  • First Reading: Numbers 6:22-27
  • Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
  • Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7
  • Gospel: Luke 2:16-21

Recording

Transcript

Don’t be afraid. I’ve got my voice back. (Congregation laughs.)

Today is a very happy day. It’s January 1st and, as we all know, January 1st is Happy New Year day. And we have a right to be happy, especially because today is a very, very special feast day. It’s the Feast of the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God.

Sometimes people wonder how can we call Mary the Mother of God?

Well, we know why we call Mary the Mother of God. Because God has chosen her, and He has chosen her to carry within her heart and her soul and her body the infant, Jesus himself, the Son of God. And because he is the Son of God, naturally, she is the Mother of God.

I think that the confusion comes as we forget that Jesus is both filled with God’s love – his Father – but Jesus in his mother’s womb receives the flesh and the life and the humanity of his mother. And that is why he, of course, is indeed the Son of God, before all ages, born for all ages and to the end of all time.

The way we begin today’s feast day is an entrance antiphon is sung. They sang such a song as an introduction. I will read you an entrance antiphon that is quite important for this day. And this is how we open the Mass for today. It’s very short.

Our praise, our honor and our love for Mary on this her solemn Feast Day. And then the heart of that is:

Hail Holy Mother who gave birth to the King who rules heaven and earth.

Today a bright light from heaven shines upon us all, for Mary’s child is born for us. And the child, who is called Prince of Peace and Son of God, who reigns forever, is, indeed, Mary’s Child.

And as the scripture says: the word is made flesh and dwells amongst us… the Son of God, who we now call our brother in the flesh, wondrous wonder to behold.

And all this made possible because a young illiterate girl from an obscure country village, says, in a moment of time, “yes” to the messenger sent by God: “Be it done to me according to thy word.”

And the bonds of marriage are made again not just between God and the child Mary, but between heaven and earth. And the terrible divisions that have been a part of Adam’s sin and the failure to love God as God loves us, this terrible failure among us is quietly restored by the faith and love of a gentle girl-child.

Yes, hail Mary, you are “full of grace” (God’s overflowing love) and the Lord is with thee today, tomorrow and for all eternity, blessed art thou amongst women…and blessed the fruit of your womb, Jesus, the child you carry.

This is what we celebrate this day. Hail to Mother Mary, Hail to thee, Mother of God.

Mary is with us. We forget that. We are always saying God is with us, but Mary is with us. Mary is with us. Her presence and her motherly love we celebrate.

And I’ll give a little aside. When I was in my twenties, I was about three years away. I was in the seminary. I was three years away for ordination to the priesthood, after which I was sent to Taiwan. At that period of my life, I was quite preoccupied with many things.

But one of the things that I was not preoccupied with was, all of a sudden, I received a call from our local superior and he said, “Your mother is seriously sick and she’s in the hospital.”

And, naturally, I said, “I will go to her,” because the hospital wasn’t that far away.

And then he reminded me that, and this is true in the old days, if you were in your final years of ordination, you already belonged to the Church. And the rule was, very strict rules, the rules were no-one was allowed to leave and go and return to their family unless they had very special permission.

And so I was (inaudible) even then, although this was common in convents, in seminaries and these places, you couldn’t just come and go as you pleased, and it had to be the most serious, serious thing that would make you leave the seminary and go to where you had to go.

Now that’s changed a lot, for many reasons. That has changed for the better.

But at that time, I could not be consoled. And so I went into the church and went to the chapel and I prayed. That didn’t do any good. And I walked around and that didn’t do any good. And I was full of myself.

Then suddenly somebody came and they passed me an envelope and it was a letter from my mother. And here’s what the letter said:

“Dear Denis,
Do not worry. I have wrapped myself in Mother Mary’s cloak and she will hold me and take good care of me.
Love,
Mom”

And I remember, when I was young, she used to have these little jingles for us. Every time we ran into something kind of hopeless and helpless and we were about ready to stop praying, she’d say, “It’s okay. Mary is with us. Mary is with us. Mary loves us. Mary loves us. Mary loves us in our laughter and Mary loves us in our tears.”

What she was trying to instil in us was whenever there is trouble, look to Mary. Look to Mary.

And so I prayed and prayed and prayed. And, of course, three days later they said she survived the operation. And then I was able to write a letter to her.

But the moment was over, and the moment was this: that there is a time when you must trust Mary. You must trust her. You must lay before her and say, “Please Mary,” as you used to do to your mother when you were little children.

Remember, Jesus always says this, you are always little children. You must become little children. If you’re not little children you’re not worth the trouble.

Anyhow it gave me room for thought, and it gave me room to ponder, and it gave me a lot of room to think of Mary, our Mother, a little bit more than I usually do.

At the cross Jesus looks down on his mother, standing there with his disciple John. What words does he say: “Behold your son.” Jesus tells his mother that her vocation is not over and will not end with his death on the cross. But she is to serve the brothers and sisters just as she has served him, with a generous and joyful heart.

And then Christ looks at his disciple John and says: “Behold your mother.” And thus he gives his mother the hands of his disciples, who are sent to serve the people of the world.

It is Mary, then, who leads us to Christ, but Christ leads us back to learn from his mother how to love and how to serve. For as Mary was once counted as only the mother of Jesus, her son now asks her to become not only his Mother and Mother of us all.

The Lord wills to let his face shine upon us, through the face of the Mother of God.

And in the words of the famous writer of the last century, G.K. Chesterton: “We serve a Mother who seems to grow more beautiful as new generations rise up and call her blessed.”

And that is why we call her Mother Mary, and why we celebrate with great joy this special New Year’s Day in which we renew our love and affection for Mary, the Mother of Jesus and our mother, on this her most Solemn Feast Day.

FAQ for Homily for Mary, Mother of God, Year C

When is Mary, Mother of God, Year C, in 2022?1st January 2022
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Mary, Mother of God, Year C?"Mother of God" and "Mary, Mother of God"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
The Epiphany of The Lord, Year C
Who was Father Hanly?Father Denis J. Hanly was a Maryknoll Missionary
How can we find other homilies by Father Hanly?By Liturgical Calendar or by topic or by title

Information about Father Hanly’s homilies for Mary, Mother of God, Year C

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If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2022), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for Mary, Mother of God, Year C, "Mother of God" was delivered on 1st January 2010. Father Hanly's sermon for Mary, Mother of God, Year C, "Mary, Mother of God" was delivered on 1st January 2013. It is sometimes hard to accurately transcribe Father Hanly's reflections, so please let us know if you think we have made a mistake in any of our transcripts, and let us have your suggestions.

We hope that Father Hanly’s homilies, always kind, always wise, always full of love, will restore you to peace and harmony through a new understanding of what is important in this world. We believe these homilies are inspiring for everyone, not only for Roman Catholics or other Christians.

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