Mary, “Mother of the God of Peace”, by Bishop Francesco Follo – ZENIT – English

“Today’s solemnity does not celebrate an abstract idea, but a mystery and a historical fact: Jesus Christ, divine person, born of the Virgin Mary who is his true Mother”.

In his meditation on the texts of the liturgy for this Sunday, January 1, 2023, solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Msgr. Francesco Follo, permanent observer of the Holy See at Unesco, invites us to marvel at the mystery of the ‘Incarnation with Mary, Mother of God and Mother of Jesus:

“With the eyes of Mary, let us contemplate the Son of God born man for man and entrusted to the care of his mother”, “at the school of Mary’s gaze, surprised by joy, we can pick up by the heart what our eyes and our mind alone can neither perceive nor contain. »

Mother of the God of Peace, Bread of Life to share in the current famine of peace

Solemnity of St. Mary, Mother of God (1st Sunday after Christmas) – Year A – 1er January 2023

Nm 6, 22-27; Ps 66; Gal 4.4-7; Luke 2,16-21)

1) Blessed by the Blessed Fruit

Eight days ago we celebrated the birth in Bethlehem of the Son of God who “became child to make us men” (Saint Ambrose). Today, a week after the birth of Jesus, the liturgy invites us to celebrate the Virgin Mary as Mother of God: the one “who gave light to the King who rules heaven and earth forever and ever”. (Entrance antiphon of today’s Mass). The liturgy makes us meditate today on the Word made man, and repeats that he was born of the Virgin. He is the “blessed fruit of the womb” of this Virgin who found in this “fruit” everything that Eve had desired while eating the fruit but which she did not find. In fact, in her fruit, Eve desired three things that the devil had falsely promised her, namely, to 1) become like God and be aware of good and evil, 2) to have pleasure because this fruit was “good to eat”, 3) to have beauty because this fruit was so beautiful to see.

By eating the forbidden fruit, Eve broke the image and likeness of God. In the blessed fruit of her womb, Mary, and with her all Christians, found what Eve was looking for: union with God through Christ and resemblance to Him. Eve was looking for pleasure and joy, but she found pain and nakedness. In the fruit of the Virgin’s womb we find grace and salvation: whoever eats this fruit will have eternal life.

Eve sought the beauty that passes and took a fruit of death, Mary gave humanity the most beautiful fruit that the angels will contemplate: it is the most beautiful among the sons of men (cf. Ps44,3.) because that he is the splendor of the glory of the Father (Hb 1,3). Jesus, the Lord.

Therefore “let us seek in the fruit of the Blessed Virgin what we desire because this is the fruit blessed by God. The Virgin is therefore blessed but her fruit, Jesus, is even more blessed” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on ‘Hail Mary’).

2) The nappies of Christ

It is true that today, the octave of Christmas, we celebrate the feast of “Mary, Mother of God”, but we cannot forget that today is also January 1st. A new solar year begins. It is an “additional” time that Providence gives us in the context of the salvation inaugurated by the Redeemer 2017 years ago.

Even though the biblical readings of today’s Mass emphasize the “Son of Mary” and the “Name of the Lord” instead of Mary, today’s Solemnity is dedicated to the Virgin Mother of God, to emphasize that the Word “without time” entered time through Mary. The apostle Paul recalls this by affirming that Jesus was “born of a woman” (cf. Gal 4,4 – today’s second reading).

The title “Mother of God” underlines the unique mission of the Blessed Virgin in the history of salvation: a mission which is the basis of the worship and devotion that the Christian people reserve for her. Our Lady did not receive the gift of God solely for herself, but to give it to the world: in her fruitful virginity, God gave men the goods of eternal salvation, as the Collect says: “God who in the fruitful virginity of Mary gave men the goods of eternal salvation, make us experience her intercession because through her we have received the author of life, Christ, your son”.

In today’s liturgy, the figure of Mary, true Mother of Jesus, Man-God, dominates humbly. Today’s solemnity does not celebrate an abstract idea, but a mystery and a historical fact: Jesus Christ, divine person, born of the Virgin Mary who is his true Mother.

This Mother wraps the Son in swaddling clothes and this Child, this “newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger” (cf. Lk 2:12) is the sign given by the angels to the shepherds to recognize the King of Kings. Leaving quickly, the shepherds arrived at the cave of Bethlehem and found the child swaddled not only in white swaddling clothes but they found Mary and Joseph, the white people of purity who, with pure love, swaddled and warmed the Newborn.

Christmas, mystery of joy: mystery of the Incarnation, of the miraculous generation of a God who chooses to reveal his face to men not by the embrace of an immense sky adorned by splendid stars, but between the arms of a pure young woman, guarded by a pure man: Joseph.

With the eyes of Saint Joseph let us look at Mary, the Virgin Mother, who is the first to believe, and the first to see the miracle born in and from her flesh: her body is the second nature – the human nature – of Christ and her womb is the first throne of the King of kings, then will come the manger, then the cross: today we.

With the eyes of Mary, let us contemplate the Son of God born man for man and entrusted to the care of his mother. She lives with her eyes fixed on Christ and treasures each of her gestures. At the school of Mary’s gaze, surprised by joy, we can pick up by the heart what our eyes and our mind alone can neither perceive nor contain.

With the eyes of shepherds, surprised by joy, we look at the fact that peace for all was born and kept by the tenderness of the Mother of God: Mary gave the world the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Redeemer of humanity.

Our peace, Christ, is in the arms of a mother: Mary, one of us. Peace, Jesus, born of a woman, is the gift of Christmas par excellence placed in our arms. He is the face of Peace that shines through our faces, beggars for peace.

Let us beg this peace from the Virgin Mary and we will have it, as did the pastors who “went without delay and found Mary and Joseph and the child lying in the manger” (Lk 2:16). These poor shepherds, beggars of God in a child, met the Prince of Peace in the child Jesus who made them witnesses of the joy of feeling loved and capable of loving, “craftsmen” of peace, of the peace that comes from the experience of being loved. Let us ask Mary, Mother of God, to help us to welcome her Child and, in Him, true peace.

Like the shepherds, let us try to be beggars of Heaven, hungry for love, thirsty for peace, let us go to Bethlehem and kneel before the manger, which shows God who becomes a Child of peace and a Mother, who the offer. This Virgin Mother gives birth to the Child by night because love is always a gift that gives birth to the day. She gave birth to Light. Mary reflects with great splendor the Light that has descended on earth. May this Light lead us on the paths of peace, because “the light of Jesus is a soft light, a calm light, it is a light of peace, it is like the light of Christmas night: without pretensions (Pope Francis).

3) Maternity1 and virginity of Light and Peace

This gentle and humble light of Christ is carried today in a particular way by the consecrated Virgins in the world. Thanks to the gift of themselves to Christ, they live by and for the love of God and of others. Consecrated women radiate the same light that their Spouse brings to the world. Their life lived humbly recalls “the first love with which the Lord Jesus Christ warmed your heart” (Benedict XVI). These women who offer themselves completely in virginity, offer themselves body and soul to be with Christ and to place themselves, like Him, at the service of God and of their brothers and sisters. Their path is a continuous journey with Christ, met today in Bethlehem, then in the lands of the Holy Land in the heart until Calvary, to be with Him, instruments of His peace.

Patristic Reading

Saint Athanasius

Letter to Epictetus

PG 26, 1-58, 1062, 1066

In Mary, God truly became man.

The Word took charge of the descendants of Abraham, which is why he had to make himself in all respects similar to his brothers and take a body similar to ours. So Mary is really necessary for him to take this body within her and offer it to us as his own. ~ Scripture recalls her childbirth and says: She wrapped her son in swaddling clothes; the breast that nursed her was declared blessed, and it was considered that it was born from her as for the offering of a sacrifice. ~ Gabriel had told him in carefully chosen terms. He did not say, in a banal way: “The one who is going to be born in you” so as not to make people believe that it would be an exterior body introduced from outside; he said: The one who will be born from you, to invite to believe that the one who was going to be born would come out of her. ~

All of this was done so that the Word, by assuming our nature and offering it as a sacrifice, would make it totally his own. He then wanted to clothe us with his own nature, which allows Saint Paul to say: This corruptible being must put on incorruptibility, this mortal being must put on immortality. This was not done in a fictitious way as some heretics have still imagined: never in life! The Savior became truly man, and the whole man’s salvation came from there. ~ Our salvation is not an appearance, it is not for the body alone, but for the whole man, soul and body, and this salvation came from the Word himself.

What came from Mary was therefore human in nature, according to the Scriptures, and the body of the Lord was a real body; yes, a real body, since it was identical to ours, because Mary is our sister, since we all descend from Adam. ~

Of course, the Word was not transformed into flesh; it only took our nature; the word of Saint John: the Word became flesh does not mean anything else, as we can see from analogous expressions, for example in Saint Paul: Christ became a curse for us.

The union of the Word with nature adds nothing to the Trinity, while the human body has received a great advantage from its communion and its unity with the Word: from mortal it has become immortal, from purely human it has become spiritual and he who comes from the earth, he crosses the gates of heaven.

Certainly, even after the Word took a body in Mary, the Trinity remains the Trinity, without addition or diminution. It is always perfect: in the Trinity we recognize the unique divinity, and it is thus that in the Church we proclaim only one God, the Father of the Word.

The times are fulfilled:

Today is born of a woman,

who makes us sons of God.

His face shines on us

and his Spirit penetrates our hearts.


1 How not to think of the sanctuary of Puy-en-Velay (France)? According to tradition, the origin of the sanctuary is contemporary with the solemn proclamation of the divine maternity of Mary by the Council of Ephesus (431).
Le Puy therefore seems to be a major place chosen very early on by Mary to make her divine motherhood visible and concrete in Europe. The prayer that we especially love at Le Puy is the Angelus where, three times a day, with Mary, we joyfully welcome the coming of the Son of God among us. We also very often sing the Salve Regina. In 1998, UNESCO listed it as a World Heritage Site because of its influence on the way to Santiago de Compostela (One of the first known pilgrims was Godescalc, bishop of Le Puy, who went on a pilgrimage in 951).

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Mary, “Mother of the God of Peace”, by Bishop Francesco Follo – ZENIT – English

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