I come this morning to wish you a blessed new year as the world begins this year of . It is somewhat odd to reflect that during the space of just about 50 years, the Church has celebrated the first of January under three different aspects. For centuries, it was called the feast of the Circumcision of Our Lord. Then it began to be called the Octave Day of Christmas. And now, it is the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.
The celebration of the Circumcision of Jesus carries with it a great deal of meaning. First of all, it means that Our Lord is a Jew, since the Jewish law requires that baby boys be circumcised on the eighth day of their lives to begin their observance of the law of Moses. It was in most cases the first time that their blood was shed since circumcision is a surgical procedure. And in the case of Our Lord, it is very meaningful since he came into the world to save humankind with his own precious Blood. Then, that day was the time when the boy was officially given his name, as we do at Baptism. Both Our Lady and Saint Joseph were told by God in no uncertain terms that this baby miraculously conceived by Our Lady and adopted by her husband, Saint Joseph, was to be called “Jesus.” The name means in Hebrew “God is savior.” Thus when the infant Christ is eight days old, he becomes a member of God’s chosen people, his blood is shed for the first time and foreshadows his sufferings and death on the cross, and his divinely chosen name is given to him whereby he becomes Jesus, God-is-savior.
Today we begin the new year in the most holy name of Jesus, our Jewish Messiah and Savior. And because he is both man and God, we celebrate his holy mother as the Mother of God. It is a title which for the first years of the Church was the source of controversy. How could any human being be the mother of God? But eventually the dispute was laid to rest by the infallible declaration of the Church: she IS the Mother of God, and that profound title was incorporated into the Hail Mary: Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners.
So again, I wish you a blessed new year; I invoke the holy name of Jesus upon you and those you love, and ask that you venerate the Mother of God, and that she in turn pray for you to her divine Son who is God. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.