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Most Christians believe that Mary is Jesus’ mother. Even many non-Christians believe that. Many Christians also struggle with Mary being the “Mother of God.” But If Jesus and God are one (John 10:30), then Mary is truly the Mother of God.
 
But how does that make her our mother? In the Gospel According to John (19:26-27), we read that, while Jesus was on the cross, he said to Mary regarding the apostle John, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then Jesus said to John, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour, John took Mary into his home. Most theologians and scholars believe that John was symbolic of everyone in the world whom Jesus came to save. So, since John was Mary’s son, all those whom Jesus came to save were her children as well.
 
St. Louis de Montfort teaches that since Mary is the mother of Christ, the Head of the Mystical Body, then she’s also the mother of all that Body’s members. That also makes her the mother of the Church, and we are the Church.
 
Abbot St. William, one of the early church fathers, writes that “Mary, in bringing forth Jesus, our Savior and our Life, brought forth many to salvation. By giving birth to life itself, she gave life to many.” By giving us life through salvation, Mary is our mother.
 
Personally, I have tried to entrust Mary with much of my life. When my first wife died, I entrusted my children to Mary as their spiritual mother. I also entrusted myself and every part of my life to her. She has not disappointed me. They were hard times, and she was, and still is, there for us.
 
By the virtue of her fiat, her “yes” to the Annunciation that she would bear the Savior, she said yes to all of creation, including us. She will never turn away from us if we ask for her intercession. Jesus wants us to do the same. Nor will Jesus ever ignore a request that comes through his mother. May we always remember that when we go to Mary, she takes our requests directly to Jesus. And, in turn, she says to us, “Do whatever he tells you.”
 
Here at RENEW, we have an excellent small-group resource called At Prayer with Mary. It has seven sessions that explore the aspects of Mary’s life that are central to our faith. To check it out, click HERE and select “Marian Resources” from the menu on the left.
 
Rich Vosler is a sales consultant at RENEW International. Contact him at 908 769 5400 x149 or [email protected]

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A reading from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah
(Chapter 60:1-6)
 
Light and darkness are two of the great biblical images. In this reading, Isaiah is telling the people of Israel that “your light has come.” Although “darkness covers the earth,” God will bring light to the whole world through Israel.
 
The word “catholic” means universal. We are part of the Catholic Church, a universal church whose light and presence should touch the whole world. Pope Francis is a truly catholic—that is universal—leader. He preaches and lives a life of peace, concern for the poor and forgotten and a broad, welcoming message. He sees the Catholic Church not as some exclusive club but rather as a warm loving embrace for all. He believes that our mission is to all, and we should welcome all, be a light for all, not an obstacle.
 
Isaiah was preaching this message at a most challenging time for the people of Israel—the exile in Babylon—when their world had been turned upside down and they endured great suffering. He came with a message of hope. Pope Francis has that message of hope for us and for all people.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 72:1-2 7-8, 10-11, 12-13)
 
“Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.” The psalmist knew when he wrote this, thousands of years ago, that it was not true but, he prayed that it would be someday, as we do today.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Ephesians
(Chapter 3:2-3a, 5-6)
 
Paul talks about the mystery that has been revealed and writes that it is not only for Jews but for Gentiles as well. It is an inclusive message, a universal mystery. This may seem obvious to us, but it was the occasion for the first major division in the early Church. There were many, including Saint Peter for a while, who thought the new Church was only for Jews. Imagine that: our first pope was wrong about a crucial truth and was big enough to admit it and move on.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 2:1-12)
 
Who were these men? Scholars have speculated about their identity for centuries. There are several theories, but the real importance of the visitors is that they represent the Gentiles, the wider world beyond Judaism. Jesus came for all, no matter where they come from or what their religion is. His appeal and call are universal.
 
The other significant figure here is Herod, the prototype of the bad king, the selfish ruler who thinks only of himself and will do anything, including mass murder, to protect his position. Of course, Herod’s plan to have the newborn king killed fails, and although Herod’s son plays a role in the death of Jesus, Jesus by then has grown into a charismatic healer who attracts large masses of followers and proclaims a message that is truly life giving.
 
This is a classic story of the seemingly powerless overcoming powerful evil rulers. It is a great model for our time when we have seen numerous despotic rulers rise and then fall before the power of the powerless.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Joseph, you led your young family
from your house to a strange land
as you fled death and violence.
Pray for us when we must step into the unknown
in order to preserve or defend our families.
Mary, you comforted Jesus and strengthened Joseph
as you held your family together
in the midst of confusion and fear.
Pray for us when we face difficulties
that rise up suddenly to threaten our families.
Jesus, you joined us in this life
and ran all the risks we do
and experienced yourself as vulnerable and weak.
Fill us with your power
so we will live our lives in solidarity
with you and our families. Amen.

 
Adapted from PrayerTime: Faith-Sharing Reflections on the Sunday Gospels, available at the RENEW International store
 
Image courtesy of FreeBibleImages.org.

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A reading from the Book of Sirach
(Chapter 3:2-6, 12-14)
 
The Book of Sirach was written about two hundred years before the birth of Jesus when male patriarchy was much more common than it is today when we are moving—though too slowly—towards equality between the sexes. Thus, the author of this book writes mainly about honoring the father and hardly at all about honoring the mother in the family. Here are some of the main points:
 
“God sets a father in honor over his children; a mother’s authority he confirms over her sons.” That’s about it for the mother. The rest of the reading focuses on fathers: “Whoever honors his father atones for sins…. Whoever honors his father is gladdened by children and, when he prays, is heard…. Whoever reveres his father will live a long life.” Then, the writer offers advice on how to care for an aging father, but nothing for the mother: “My son, take care of your father when he is old…. Even if his mind fails, be considerate of him, revile him not all the days of his life; kindness to a father will not be forgotten.” Sirach does have one other line for mothers: “He who obeys his father brings comfort to his mother.”
 
Most of us have heard this reading many times and perhaps have not thought much about gender inequality, because that is the way it was when this book was written. But we should remember that it is still that way, and worse, for millions of women throughout the world, even some in our own society.
 
Responsorial Psalm
(Psalm 128:1-2, 3, 4-5)
 
“Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways.” The expression “fear the Lord” in the Bible does not mean a haunting, dominating, cringing fear of God’s punishment. It means respect, honor, recognition of God’s power, and openness to hearing God’s word.
 
A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Colossians
(Chapter 3:12-21)
 
Paul has some beautiful words for these people whom he loved dearly: “Brothers and sisters, put on, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love that is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts.” May those words guide our family lives and all of our relationships.
 
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew
(Chapter 2:13-15)
 
Matthew is the only evangelist who tells the story of the magi, the flight to Egypt to escape the evil king Herod, and the eventual return to Israel—not to Judah but to Galilee. What does all this mean? First of all, who are these magi? They are not Jews, nor are they kings, but probably astrologers. More importantly, they represent the whole world outside of Israel. Their appearance means that Jesus has come for everyone.
 
What about Herod, the evil king? He is afraid that this baby might one day challenge him or his successors, so he tries to kill Jesus. In a dream, Joseph finds out about this plan. An angel tells him, “Rise, take the child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I tell you. Herod is going to search for the child to destroy him. Joseph rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt, and stayed there until the death of Herod.” Why Egypt? “That what the Lord had said through the prophet (Hosea) might be fulfilled, Out of Egypt I called my son.” Moses was called out of Egypt to save his people. Jesus is considered the new Moses as well as the new David, a real king. Matthew tells us this so that we may know that these promises have been fulfilled in Jesus who has come to save his people.
 
Then, after Herod has died, Joseph has still another dream in which an angel says, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel.” But Herod’s son, Archelaus, is now the ruler, so Joseph does not go back to Judea but to Nazareth in Galilee. There, Jesus would grow up among Jews and gentiles, again foreshadowing his ministry to all people.
 
Excerpts from the English translation of the Lectionary for Mass © 1969, 1981, 1997, International Commission on English in the Liturgy Corporation (ICEL). All rights reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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Meditation on John 1:1-5
 

In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

He was in the beginning with God.

All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.

The light shines on in the darkness.
 
The darkness may surround you,
but the darkness will not overcome the light.
The darkness may be your constant companion,
but it need not overcome you.
It need not be your life.
Seek the light. Seek it all around you, within you.
Let it be your lifelong partner, your protector, your energy, your salvation.
The light, the light within you and all around you, will help you overcome the darkness.
The darkness will try to surround you, take over your life,
and penetrate your very being,
but it need not destroy you.
The light will always shine, out there, somewhere.
Seek the light wherever you can find it,
and always look within, past the darkness, to the Spirit of Light that lives within you.
Yes! The Spirit of Light is your greatest gift to lead you out of the darkness.
Seek the gift. Rejoice in the gift. Live in the gift. Banish the darkness.
Live in the Light of the Spirit
 
—Bill Ayres
 
Scripture passage from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC. All Rights Reserved.
 
Bill Ayres was a founder, with the late singer Harry Chapin, of WhyHunger. He has been a radio and TV broadcaster for 40 years and has two weekly Sunday-night shows on WPLJ, 95.5 FM in New York. He is a member of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Centerport, New York.

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