On New Year's Day, the octave day of Christmas, the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God, which honors Mary as mother of Jesus Christ who is fully God and fully human. Mary is also recalled as "Queen of Peace" on this day designated as World Day of Peace.
This holy day is also referred to as "Solemnity of the Holy Mother of God;" formerly Christ's Circumcision was celebrated this day.
The Solemnity of Mary Mother of God falls exactly one week after Christmas. It is fitting to honor Mary as Mother of Jesus, following the birth of Christ. When we celebrate the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God we are not only honoring Mary, who was chosen among all women throughout history to bear God incarnate, but we are also honoring our Lord, who is fully God and fully human. Calling Mary "mother of God" is the highest honor we can give Mary. Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the "Prince of Peace," the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God honors Mary as the "Queen of Peace."
This feast is the most important and oldest of the major feasts of Mary. It is based on the source of her privileges: her motherhood. Jesus Christ, God's Son " born of a woman," (Galatians 4,4) came to deliver us from sin and make us children of God. He is also Mary's Son, and she, his mother, helps bring his blessings to the world. She is
"truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer ... not merely passively engaged by God, but freely cooperating in the work of our salvation through faith and obedience." (Lumen Gentium, 53, 56)
Mary was not simply a passive instrument in God's hands; rather she discovered and accepted new dimensions to her motherhood as her life unfolded. Scripture indicates signs of her new unfolding motherhood.
At the marriage feast in Cana in Galilee, where Jesus worked his first miracle, Mary is "the Mother of Jesus" who manifests
" a new kind of motherhood according to the spirit and not just according to the flesh, that is to say Mary's solicitude for human beings, her coming to them in the wide variety of their wants and needs. At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one and of little importance ("They have no wine"). But it has a symbolic value, this coming to the aid of human beings means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ's messianic mission and salvific power." (Pope John Paul 11, Redemptoris Mater 21)
Mary's care for humanity and its needs would not limited to her earthly life; it lasts "without interruption until the eternal fulfillment of all the elect. (Lumen Gentium, 62)
Throughout her life, then, Mary was a follower of her Son. At the foot of the cross, her motherhood reached a new maturity when Mary experienced her Son's redeeming love for the world. Her spirit was touched and refined by the mystery of his death and resurrection.
From his cross, Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, said to Mary, "Woman, behold your son." (John 19,25-27)
"The words uttered by Jesus signify that the motherhood of her who bore Christ finds a 'new' continuation in the Church and through the Church, symbolized and represented by John. " (Redemptoris Mater, 24)
Before Pentecost, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus, the disciples "continued with one mind in prayer with the women and Mary, the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." (Acts 1,14) "Thus Mary who is present in the mystery of Christ as Mother becomes - by the will of the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit - present in the mystery of the Church. In the Church too she continues to be a maternal presence, as is shown by the words spoken from the cross: 'Woman, behold your son.' 'Behold, your mother.' "