Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Jan 1)
January 01, 2024
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.


FIRST READING          Numbers 6:22-27

The LORD said to Moses:
“Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them:
This is how you shall bless the Israelites.
Say to them:
The LORD bless you and keep you!
The LORD let his face shine upon
you, and be gracious to you!
The LORD look upon you kindly and
give you peace!
So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites,
and I will bless them.”


SECOND READING          Galatians 4:4-7

Brothers and sisters:
When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
born of a woman, born under the law,
to ransom those under the law,
so that we might receive adoption as sons.
As proof that you are sons,
God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,
crying out, “Abba, Father!”
So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son then also an heir, through God.


GOSPEL          Luke 2:16-21

The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.

 When eight days were completed for his circumcision,
he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel
before he was conceived in the womb.


     Today could give you a case of liturgical indigestion.  So many things vie for our attention it’s hard to do justice to any, much less all, of them.  First and foremost, it is the eighth, or octave, day of Christmas: the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, when the Church honors her who brought forth into the world the eternal Light (Preface).  Other calendars, however, celebrate today as the Feast of the Circumcision.
     Of course, today is also the beginning of a new year of Our Lord, the nineteen hundred and  twenty-fourth since the dawn of the Common Era, when the fullness of time had come, [and] God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption, as children of God. (II)
     And finally, it is the annual World Peace Day, observed by the Catholic Church since the time of Pope Paul VI, when we repeat the blessing of Aaron, asking the Lord look upon [us] kindly and give [us] peace. (cf. I) This year's theme is "Artificial Intelligence and Peace." The communiqué from the Holy See introducing Pope Francis' message this year notes how, 
The remarkable advances made in the field of artificial intelligence are having a rapidly increasing impact on human activity, personal and social life, politics and the economy.

Pope Francis calls for an open dialogue on the meaning of these new technologies, endowed with disruptive possibilities and ambivalent effects. He recalls the need to be vigilant and to work so that a logic of violence and discrimination does not take root in the production and use of such devices, at the expense of the most fragile and excluded: injustice and inequalities fuel conflicts and antagonisms. The urgent need to orient the concept and use of artificial intelligence in a responsible way, so that it may be at the service of humanity and the protection of our common home, requires that ethical reflection be extended to the sphere of education and law.

The protection of the dignity of the person, and concern for a fraternity effectively open to the entire human family, are indispensable conditions for technological development to help contribute to the promotion of justice and peace in the world.

     (The entire message can be found at

     So there you have it: a mixture of occasions that could easily overload our spiritual circuits--if not for one thing — the different items on today’s “agenda” are all deeply connected.  In fact, the several threads which are woven together this day form a seamless garment.  And you could say the common thread is Mary, the Mother of God.  Her grace and beauty wind their way through this tapestry, uniting its several parts into one.  For she is the one who presided over the events marking the dawn of a new age, keeping all these things, and reflecting on them in her heart. (cf. G)  She is the one who bore him is called the Prince of Peace and is herself invoked as the Queen of Peace.  And she was the one who, with Joseph, brought her Child to be circumcised, the first time the Blood that makes peace was shed. (cf. Col. 1:20)
     No wonder, then, the shepherds went in haste to find Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger No wonder, then, when they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child.  No wonder, then, all who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds No wonder, then, the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. (G)
     The real wonder is why, since then, the world has gone so hastily in the opposite direction, rushing more to war than to peace.  The real wonder is why, since then, the message of the angels promising peace on earth has been understood by so few.  The real wonder is why, since then, more have not been amazed by the gospel of peace and see that violence and cruelty can have no part with God.  The real wonder is why, since then, so few have heard or seen what the shepherds did, and therefore can neither praise nor glorify the God of perfect peace.
     So comes another January 1st, in the month named for Janus, the god with two faces, looking in opposite directions, glancing both forward and back, not knowing whether to favor the past or trust the future.  Like our hesitant world, unsure which way to turn as it ponders the year ahead.  Not knowing whether to bury the past, with its burdens of conflict and division, or turn its mind to thoughts of peace, a future where nations seek the way of peace together.
     The year past saw much more of the former. Understanding has not put an end to strife in Ukraine or Israel-Palestine; nor was hatred quenched by mercy; neither did vengeance give way to forgiveness So we can never cease praying for peace.  Janus’ other face notwithstanding.
     And the prayer is the same:  If only the Lord would let his face shine upon us in the year to come (cf. I): the face of a Child in his Mother’s arms.  If only the Blood he shed in drops when eight days were completed (G) — the same Blood he would shed someday to the last drop — if only that precious Blood would be enough this year to stop the bloodshed of war, once and for all.
     All so God’s way be known upon earth; among all nations, God’s salvation . . . Thus may the peoples praise God; And may God bless us, and all the ends of the earth fear him. (cf. RP)  Who lives and  reigns, with the Son and the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.  Amen.
INTERCESSIONS (from Pope Francis' Urbi et orbi blessing on Christmas Day)

Isaiah, who prophesied the Prince of Peace, looked forward to a day when “nation shall not lift up sword against nation”, a day when men “will not learn war any more”, but instead “beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks” (2:4).

May it come in Israel and Palestine, where war is devastating the lives of those peoples. I embrace them all, particularly the Christian communities of Gaza, the parish of Gaza, and the entire Holy Land. My heart grieves for the victims of the abominable attack of 7 October last, and I reiterate my urgent appeal for the liberation of those still being held hostage. I plead for an end to the military operations with their appalling harvest of innocent civilian victims, and call for a solution to the desperate humanitarian situation by an opening to the provision of humanitarian aid. May there be an end to the fueling of violence and hatred. And may the Palestinian question come to be resolved through sincere and persevering dialogue between the parties, sustained by strong political will and the support of the international community. Brothers and sisters, let us pray for peace in Palestine and in Israel.

My thoughts turn likewise to the people of war-torn Syria, and to those of long-suffering Yemen. I think too of the beloved Lebanese people, and I pray that political and social stability will soon be attained.

Contemplating the Baby Jesus, I implore peace for Ukraine. Let us renew our spiritual and human closeness to its embattled people, so that through the support of each of us, they may feel the concrete reality of God’s love.

May the day of definitive peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan draw near. May it be advanced by the pursuit of humanitarian initiatives, by the return of refugees to their homes in legality and security, and by reciprocal respect for religious traditions and the places of worship of each community.

Let us not forget the tensions and conflicts that trouble the region of the Sahel, the Horn of Africa and Sudan, as well as Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan.

May the day draw near when fraternal bonds will be consolidated on the Korean peninsula by undertaking processes of dialogue and reconciliation capable of creating the conditions for lasting peace.

May the Son of God, who became a lowly Child, inspire political authorities and all persons of good will in the Americas to devise suitable ways to resolve social and political conflicts, to combat forms of poverty that offend the dignity of persons, to reduce inequality and to address the troubling phenomenon of migration movements.

From the manger, the Child Jesus asks us to be the voice of those who have no voice. The voice of the innocent children who have died for lack of bread and water; the voice of those who cannot find work or who have lost their jobs; the voice of those forced to flee their lands in search of a better future, risking their lives in grueling journeys and prey to unscrupulous traffickers.


That boy-child of Mary, 
Was born in a stable. 
A manger, His cradle 
In Bethlehem. 
How shall we call Him, 
Child of the Manger? 
What name is given 
In Bethlehem? 
His name is Jesus, 
God, given for us 
In Bethlehem.
Gladly we praise Him, 
Love and adore Him, 
Give ourselves to Him, 
In Bethlehem. 
Mary looks upon her Child. 
(Birth is a mystery.) 
Her thoughts are deep and undefiled. 
(Love is a mystery.) 
A candle throws its kindly beam. 
(Light is a mystery.) 
Upon a Child without a name. 
(Self is a mystery.) 
Soon a sword shall pierce her heart. 
(Pain is a mystery.) 
Love knows the end before we start. 
(Death is a mystery.) 
O Lamb of God, 
that takest away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us. 
O Lamb of God, 
that takest away the sins of the world, 
grant us Your peace.