Reflection on the Feast of the Motherhood of Mary
Rev. Fr. Bonnie Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.
Nestorius was a brilliant monk who later became a priest and the Bishop of Constantinople from Ad 428 to 431. Unfortunately, you will find out that he would later become popular for the wrong reasons.
Nestorius deviated from the teaching that there are two natures in one person, Jesus Christ (human and divine), and claimed that Jesus is a union of two persons (human and divine). Consequently, he taught that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the mother of the human Jesus, not the mother of Jesus Christ, who is God the Son.
The teaching of Nestorius was condemned as heretical in the Church Councils of Ephesus (431) and Chalcedon (451), and the Blessed Virgin Mary was proclaimed and upheld as the “Theotokos” (the bearer of God).
Nestorianism was a deviation from scripture and doctrine. Recall that during Mary’s visit, Elizabeth moved by the Holy Spirit, said: “But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43). In another place, Jesus said to Phillip “to have seen me is to have seen the Father, how can you say, show us the Father.” (John 14:9).
Motherhood of Mary and the New Year
Every January 1st, the Church celebrates the feast of Mary, the mother of God, and it is legitimate to wonder how the feast relates to the New Year.
The first explanation goes to the circumcision of Jesus Christ, which happened eight days after his birthday. Going by the Gregorian calendar we use, the circumcision of Jesus occurred on the first of January.
The circumcision of Jesus was celebrated on the first day of the year for a long time until 1974 when Pope Paul VI replaced it with the solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
The reference to Mary at the beginning of the year finds relevance in her role as the mother of Jesus Christ, who is God. The word became flesh in her womb (John 1:14), and at the fullness of time, she gave birth to Jesus, who began a new beginning for humanity.
Significantly, Mary became the human bridge between the era before the coming of Christ and his birth. So, celebrating the motherhood of Mary at the beginning of the new year is a way of welcoming the year in the manner of a newborn child and committing it to the maternity of Mary. Just as she is the Mother of God, she comes to us as the Mother of the New Year, and we are the New Year!
Moving Forward: Lessons from Mary for A Better New Year.
At the beginning of the year, most look for promises and prophecies to help them face the year’s challenges. We often seek what God will do for us, but we fail to ask how to cooperate with God’s grace. This is where Mary can be a great mentor for us as we begin a new year. So, we learn the following lessons from the words of Mary to guide us in the New Year:
“Let it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38): We learn from Mary the readiness to allow God to have his way in our lives. Remember that God did not bring us here without clues. Remember, he says I have a plan for you; this is about purpose. The best thing that can happen in your life is God’s will.
“Mary treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51): As you enter the new year, it is better to be more reflective than be talkative. Speak less and do more. Mary spoke only on four important occasions in the entire Gospel narratives. Speak only when it is necessary.
“Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5): Mary did not only ask his son to give them wine at the Wedding at Cana, but she also gave the attendants an instruction that necessitated the miracle of the water becoming wine. If we can decide to do only what God tells us in His words, our lives will be better and more focused.
I wish you a blissful New Year and increased divine presence and blessings.