May God let his face shine upon us

God’s face shines on us through the infant Christ in the manger at Bethlehem.

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Sunday, January 1st, Solemnity of the Mother of God

You can find the full readings here. This Lectio is based on the Responsorial Psalm.

Reading

May God bless us in his mercy.
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
R. May God bless us in his mercy.
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
R. May God bless us in his mercy.
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
R. May God bless us in his mercy.

Standout words

have pity on us, let his face shine on us

Reflection

In the light of the incarnation, these words of Psalm 67 take on a new dimension:

May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.

Our cry for God’s pity is answered as his face shines on us through the infant Christ in the manger at Bethlehem. In this face we see the Word of God, who has handed himself over to us so as to show the depths of divine mercy. Through Christ’s incarnation, through his life, death, and resurrection, and through the work of his mystical body the Church, God has made his way known, prompting all nations to be glad, to exult, and to praise him.

We understand today’s celebration in this light. The origins of the “solemnity of the Mother of God” lie in the Council of Ephesus, where Christians considered a technical question about Jesus. The motivating question was whether a Christian could rightly call Mary the “Mother of God.” Ultimately, the assembled bishops agreed that the incarnation had to have been so intimate and complete that the person we call Jesus Christ is both fully human and fully divine. (In the technical phrasing, a human nature and a divine nature united in the one divine person of the Son of God.) In this sense, it is correct to call Mary the Mother of God.

We do not pray to two different persons; we pray to one person, Christ, the Word made flesh. It is his light that shines upon us through the incarnation.

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