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KOTA KINABALU – On New Year’s day, the Octave (8th) Day of Christmas and designated World Day of Peace, the Holy Mass for the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God was celebrated at the Carmelite Monastery of Our Lady of Mt Carmel presided by Fr Felix Chung and concelebrated by Fr Francis Tsen.
The celebration of Mary’s motherhood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah and Redeemer, is the oldest feast of Mary celebrated by the Catholic Church. The title, Mother of God is the highest title given to the Blessed Virgin Mary as early as at the First Ecumenical Council of Ephesus in 431 A.D. It was only following the 1969 revision of the liturgical year and the calendar that 1 January, the Octave Day of the Nativity of the Lord, is universally celebrated by the Church as the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. In his Apostolic Letter, Marialis Cultus dated February 2 1974, Pope Paul VI explained: “This celebration, placed on January 1…is meant to commemorate the part played by Mary in this mystery of salvation. It is meant also to exalt the singular dignity which this mystery brings to the “holy Mother…through whom we were found worthy to receive the Author of life.”
In his homily on this great Solemnity celebrated on Jan 1 in the Basilica of St Peter, Pope Francis reminded us that Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God gave a human face to the eternal Word, so that all of us can contemplate him. Jesus Christ is the fullness of blessing for every man and woman and for all of humanity. He exhorted that Jesus cannot be understood without his Mother as Christ and his Mother are inseparable and closely united in his entire mission and Mary, the Mother of God, is also the Mother of the Church.
Meanwhile, at Carmel, Fr Francis Tsen in his homily exhorted that Jesus born of the Blessed Virgin Mary is inseparably both fully human and fully divine. The Blessed Virgin Mary who played an important role in the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity is indeed fittingly honored to be greeted as the Most Holy Mother of God for all times. Reflecting on the Gospel reading of the wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12) he commended Mary, Mother of Jesus as a mighty and gentle intercessor closest to our Lord. Citing the Evangelist Luke 2:19-20: “As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered then in her heart”, Fr Tsen further commended the Blessed Virgin Mary, a woman of obedience and faith, who lived constantly in the presence of God as the supreme model of contemplative par excellence we should emulate.
In concluding, he consecrated the New Year 2015 to the protection and intercession of Mary, Holy Mother of God. – OCDS KK