Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Year B

We have two beautiful homilies by Father Hanly for Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, Year B: “Mary, Our Mother” and “’Behold Your Mother.’”

Two Homilies:

Mary, Our Mother

Mary, Our Mother

For the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Year B, we have a beautiful homily by Father Hanly about Mary, our Mother.

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

  • 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



It is indeed fitting that we praise Mary. Praise Mary not because she is the mother of Jesus, but because she is our own mother.

And during this Christmas season, when all the wonders are told about Jesus being born, God made flesh, the Incarnation, and all kinds of theological wonders about it, we think of the simple little girl who gave birth to the child that would change the world and would change our lives.

And this is the great moment of joy and happiness that has come down through the centuries.

Think of all the people who do not look upon her as Theotokos, the mother of God, but they look upon it in the way Jesus told us to look upon it, and that is as our mother. The same role that she had with her only son, Jesus, the Lord.

I suppose everybody has their favourite Mary stories. I remember as a child, Mary seemed to be a very, very big part of our spiritual lives as children.

And that was because children understand what it means to be with or without a mother. They understand that everybody can pass away, but as long as the mother is there, everything’s alright with the world.

I remember in St. Joseph’s, where I was for a while, we had a crib set. And the crib set, it was a beautiful crib set and nobody wanted to see the crib set changed for any reason at all.

But down through the years it became kind of broken up a little bit. And then there would be a shepherd and he’d be taped up at the back, but at a distance you couldn’t see it. And then, of course, there was St. Joseph and somebody fell on his head and he had to be taped up.

And pretty soon all the characters were in need of taping, except two.

The only two that were left, when we finally decided to get a new crib set, was Jesus and Mary. Mary was there looking down at Jesus and Jesus was looking up at her.

And this was a crib set.

But it was very biblical, because you know when the three kings come, they usually come to a crib set that’s so crowded they have no room for them. They have the animals and the shepherds and everybody crowded around, but in reality it wasn’t like that.

As Matthew explained it, the three kings came to worship Jesus and they found a child and his mother. That is all that is mentioned.

Probably one of the most favourite of my stories are the stories about Mary taught at our mother’s knees.

And I always remember, especially in times of great turmoil, the one where Peter is at the gates of Heaven and Jesus comes up to him.

And he says, “Peter, I don’t think you’re really doing your job. You know you’re only supposed to be bringing in the ones who are good and kind and forgiving, but there are some rowdies getting in there, people that I don’t know whether they really belong.”

And Peter would say, “Lord, don’t blame me. I refuse to let them in, but they run around to the back and your mother lets them in through the window.”

That’s Mary. And I think, especially as children, you feel that no matter how bad you are, even when your own mother might not be too happy with you, that Mary would always forgive you.

In fact, when I used to get in trouble at school, which was quite often, I would pray on the way home, “Now, Mother Mary, I don’t care what happens, just don’t let my mother find out about it.”

And sure enough, no matter what happened, I never got bawled out twice. You see in those days, if the teacher bawled you out at school, you never mentioned it to your parents, because they would take turns bawling you out two, three, four, five times. You were always the one at fault.

But it was the presence of Mary, the assuring presence of Mary down through the years, that I think we carry with us. It’s a feeling of warmth, a feeling of safety, a feeling that she understands.

You think of the little teenage girl who was asked to become the mother of God and it goes beyond our ideas and our ability to imagine what that must have meant for her.

Except that she knew that everything would be changed and she would never have another life of her own. Because to say yes to God would mean that she would give her whole heart, her whole soul, her whole life, her whole future, into His hands.

But that is was what she did. She gave it freely. “Be it done to me according to your word.”

We think of Jesus, of course, in the Garden of Gethsemane, asking his Father to take away the dreadful chalice of horror that was awaiting him at the crucifixion. And he said — he was his mother’s child — he said, “Not as I will, Father, but as thou wilt.”

And so it is today, with these simple little stories, we get an insight into God and what it means to have Mary for a mother.

For she is the one who becomes her son’s first disciple: loving the way God loves, constantly giving; caring the way God cares, constantly present; worrying the way God worries, as Jesus worried about his disciples, and the way he worried about us in our world.

To be with us, to be with his mother as they made sure that the life that our Father has given us is kept safe, that the life our Father has given us will bring new life to the world when we understand that Mary loved the way she loved, constantly giving, and Jesus, of course, loved the way he loved, constantly giving.

And they teach us that the Almighty God high up in Heaven is just a father who is constantly caring, constantly giving, and teaching us all how to love.

The miracle of Christmas is the miracle of weakness become strength.

It is the miracle in knowing that this simple little girl, seventeen, eighteen years old, has become the mother of us all.

And today we salute her, we honour her, but, most of all, we still call her Mary, our mother.

“Behold Your Mother”

“Behold Your Mother”

In this beautiful homily for the Feast of Mary, Mother of God, Year B, Father Hanly reminds us Mary was not only the mother of God, Jesus, but she was our mother as well.

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

  • 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



The official title for today’s Mass is “The Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.”

It means that the little fifteen-year-old girl from Bethlehem, hearing this said of her many, many, many centuries later, would probably not even recognise herself, because they are deliberately showing the greatness of Mary, the solemnity of Mary, and they call her the mother of God.

And all these things are true, but she was not only the mother of God, Jesus, but she was our mother as well.

And so I think it’s very important that we remember Mary as Mary really is, and not just all the wonderful things down through the ages that were said of her that might distance us a little bit from her.

Mary’s title, Mother of God, is Theotokos. It is a title that took four hundred years for the learned theologians to come down and agree that this was the best title, and what it means is mother of God: tokos is “mother,” and theo is “of God.”

But, oddly enough, Mary did not enter into the great debate in Ephesus in the year 431 that proclaimed Mary as the mother of God.

It was really a battle of theologians between whether or not they would recognise the fact that Jesus was not only divine, but had, through Mary, become a human being. And because he became a human being, he had to have a human mother. And that’s why the title is Mary, the Mother of God.

And what kind of a mother was she?

I can’t imagine. Can you imagine what it would be like to be given the responsibility for this tender little child, this weeping little boy, in terrible times, when you’re poor and not even out of your teens, and to be responsible for him?

We have all the pictures of St Joseph that are painted. He always looks terribly worried.

And well he might, for before long he was off into Egypt, in a strange land, raising a very, very special kind of child, and taking care of a woman who he loved dearly, and yet he really didn’t know the first thing about being a husband, or a father, or a step-father.

Mother of God means mother of Jesus.

And, of course, when Jesus is on the cross, he says to his disciple John, he says, “This is your mother,” meaning Mary, “take care of her.”

But more than that, he is saying to all of us, on the cross before he died, he turned to his disciple and he said, “Behold, your mother.” Not just your mother, but you and the apostles and the people who will come and believe.

She is indeed your mother. She is not something strange from outer space. She is not something that gave birth and then disappeared.

She is your mother and you must treat her like your mother, for she is indeed your mother, because Jesus himself is the son and he says, you are my brothers and, just as she is mine, she belongs to me as a mother, so too all of you who believe in Jesus and love Jesus and care for Jesus become brothers and sisters because of Mary.

The wonderful thing about Mary is she’s just like us.

Some people will say and try to make of her almost like a goddess.

We don’t need goddesses. We’ve got goddesses all over the place: movie stars, and wise men, and people who are proclaimed to be better than everyone. And we worship them, sometimes, maybe too quickly.

But Mary always remains a mother, just a mother. There is no worship words, or worship sayings, or picking her up and putting her far away from us, because Jesus says, “She’s my mother, and you are my brothers and sisters, and together you must listen to her.”

And she is called the first disciple of her son.

It’s very important to know her as you would your own mother. It’s that intimacy that’s very, very special. And it’s very down-to-earth.

She became the mother of Jesus so that Jesus, God Himself, could experience what it was not to be high in the heavens, but an ordinary human being stumbling through life just like everybody else does, feeling the pain of it, the glory of it, the good times, the bad times, the mistakes, the failures.

And she is the one who made this possible for her son, and for all of us to understand.

The Incarnation didn’t bring us up to heaven, it brought God down to earth.

So when we speak of God and pray, we must not put him up in some never-never land, far away up in the sky, waiting to save us at the end of time.

He walks with us, he talks with us, he is one with us. He said to his disciples, “I will never leave you,” and that meant here and now and in this world, not the next world.

Some people accuse us of, kind of…

It used to be said of the Irish — I’m Irish I can say it — but the saying was that the Irish feel that wonderful things begin after we may die, and you’re supposed to ignore the whole world as being a terrible place full of misery and of suffering and all of this sort of thing, but, don’t worry, when you die you will all go to heaven, so your happy life begins in heaven.

God didn’t mean that. He came down to make you happy. He did.

And if you’re not happy, it’s not your fault maybe, but you’d better start thinking that maybe I’ve got some of this wrong.

“Blessed are the poor” means blessed are those who know their need for each other, know their need for God, know their need.

And in knowing your need for love, you will learn how to love and how to live with the people around you and see them the way God sees them, the way Jesus saw them.

And to know that what man is is God-like only in one way: we must serve, because that’s all God does.

God does not do anything in his world but serve us. Everything in God… His love is to serve us. His caring is to serve us. He looks for the lonely. He looks for the people who feel that they are all alone and abandoned. He serves.

And so this is the great aspect of God. He’s a giver and not a taker. He’s a lover and not a hater.

He is one full of the present, understands its pains and difficulties, but never is into the sad, deep sadness of many, many of us who feel that this is a dark and dismal world, and pray that we will go to heaven and experience something else.

Today, the mother of God is a mother, and she says to us, like a mother, all those little things: be kind to people, be nice to people, forgive people. She says all the things that Jesus, as her son, would tell us, because he learned them from his mother and from his step-father.


Because he was all man, not just pretending to be a man.

And so he’d look upon Mary as a mother, someone who would correct us when we do wrong, but urge us on when we’re in need or trouble, someone who we can always count on, who always shows up.

Woody Allen has this expression, he says…

They asked him, “What’s the secret of life?”

And he goes through this idea that he’s going to come out with something gigantic. And he says, “The secret of life: 87% of life is showing up, you just show up.”

Think of that, that’s very true.

Mary always shows up. She’s always there with Jesus, not with important occasions or anything like that.

And we come to love her. And we do. Of all the women in the world, I think, the one who is loved the deepest and the most, and the kindest, and on every level, is the little girl from Bethlehem who grew up and who will be with us all days.

I have a poem. I’ve been trying to look for a place to read this poem. And I remember the first time I heard it. I wasn’t just a little boy, but the poem is written by a young woman* in 1927. And it’s really a poem written to Our Lady and I’m going to read it for you.

You might have heard this before, because Bishop Fulton Sheen, during the Fifties, used to have a radio program and, every time he finished for the evening, his little talk, he would read this poem. Yeah, so it got to be rather famous in and around New York City and places like that.

But the poem is a lovely poem about Our Lady.

Now, here’s the scene: it’s in the language of a little boy, a little boy talking to a mother, and it’s quite touching.

“To Our Lady” is the name of the poem.

One preface before this, now, you have to become little children to appreciate it. Jesus says that. He says until you become like little children, you’ll never know what life is all about.

So kind of go into yourself and, like little girls and little boys, listen to the words of this little child as he talks to the Blessed Mother.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue —
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
Tell me what to say!

Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way
Mother does to me?

Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
O! And did He cry?

Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things —
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings

Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me — for you know.

Lovely Lady dressed in blue —
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little boy,
And you know the way.

*Mary Dixon Thayer

FAQ for Homily for Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B

When is Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B, in 2024?1st January 2024
What is the title of Father Hanly’s homily for Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B?"Mary, Our Mother" and "Behold Your Mother"
What is the next homily by Father Hanly in this Liturgical Cycle?
The Epiphany of The Lord, Year B
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 Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B

All Rights Reserved.
If you would like to use our transcripts of either of these sermons (updated 2023), please contact us for permission.

Father Hanly's sermon for Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B, "Mary, Our Mother" was delivered on 1st January 2009. Father Hanly's sermon for Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Year B, "Behold Your Mother" was delivered on 1st January 2012. 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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2 Comments Add yours

  1. Patrick Woo says:

    The idea of putting two homilies of the same subject into one posting is refreshing. It enriches the contents and further evidences the talent of Fr. Hanly as a preacher. Thank you, Jane.

    1. Jane says:

      Thank you Patrick.

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