The Gospel reading from the Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God is Luke 2:16-21.

Responding to an angel’s miraculous announcement of Christ’s birth and the wondrous apparition of an army of angels praising God, the lowly and rough shepherds who kept watch over flocks at night hasten to find Christ. Arriving in Bethlehem, the shepherds located the Holy Family amidst the animals in a stable, built in the shelter of a cave. Overwhelmed, the shepherds described, in-depth, the fearsome appearance of the angel, the announcement that Christ was the long-awaited Messiah and the awe-inducing sight of army of angels worshipping God; while it is unclear who else was present besides the Holy Family, all wondered (to be astonished or “thunder-struck”). However, rather than being astonished, Mary quietly observes God’s miraculous acts and meditates deeply upon them in her heart. 

Consistent God’s covenant with Abraham 2000 years earlier (Gen 17:9-14), Jesus is circumcised on the eighth day, confirming Jesus’ solidarity with God’s chosen people, Israel; Joseph and Mary fulfill all the requirements of the Law (Luke 2:22-24, 41).  Joseph, the man chosen by the Father to be the adoptive father of Jesus, presents Christ to a rabbi for the circumcision and names Him Jesus (“God saves”), as revealed to Mary (Luke 1:31).  

The Church has venerated Mary since early days.  God’s selection of Mary to be the Mother of God, Christ’s care for her during His public ministry and His giving of Mary to John at the Crucifixtion set the foundation for Mary’s veneration. After the Ascension, Mary was treated with great reverence by John and was “interviewed” by Luke in the writing of Luke’s Gospel (Infancy Narratives).  The early Church Fathers continued to venerate Mary, proclaiming Mary was the Theotokos (“Mother of God”) in the 5th century. More recently, the Church confirmed as dogma (a binding teaching) the long-held tradition of Mary’s Immaculate Conception (1854) and of the Assumption (1950). In 1964, Mary was reconfirmed as “Mother of the Church” and in 1969, the Solemnity of Mary, Holy Mother of God, replaced the Feast of of the Circumcision of Christ on January 1.  

Awed by Jesus ChristSon of God, Christ’s birth is miraculously announced to shepherds, filling them with both fear and joy and compelling them to search and find Christ in Bethlehem. Son of David, Christ is born in David’s home town of Bethlehem as prophesized in the Old Testament. Divine King, Christ upholds His own covenant with Israel by being circumcised. Son of Joseph and Son of Mary, Christ is shepherded and guided in the Jewish faith by Joseph and Mary. 

Being a Heroic Catholic Man

1) Marvel at the spectacular way the Father confirms His blessings to Mary and Joseph by sending a glorious army of angels to lowly shepherds who, in their awe, come an proclaim the miracle to Mary and Joseph. 

2) While billions of women have been born, ponder the stunning truth that only one, Mary, was chosen to be the Mother of God. During Christmastime, renew your understanding that Mary is the Mother of God (CCC 493, 495, 508-509, 963, 2619, 2677) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in awe and honor of God’s chosen mother. 

3) The Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God is a reminder as the new year starts that all men need to venerate and rely on Mary’s most powerful intercession to help them in the spiritual combat. During Christmastime, reflect upon the Devotion to Mary (CCC 971-972, 975, 1014, 1172) and pray for Christ to help you to grow in devotion to His beloved mother.