Theotokos: The Mother of God

If you had to make a guess, whom would you say is the person who has appeared most often on the cover of Time magazine?  You might think of a public figure like Princess Diana or an elected official like the President, or a movie star.  But you’d be wrong.  The face most seen on Time‘s cover belongs to the Blessed Virigin Mary.  Why is she still so interesting to us some 2000 years after the birth of her Son?
 
To begin with, she is the Mother of God through her own choice.  When the angel Gabriel appeared to the teenaged Mary to reveal to her God’s plan for her life, she could have refused to go along with Him.  But she didn’t.  And her “yes” of love to the Father gave Love a home in our world.  An early father of the Church described it this way: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by Mary’s obedience”(St. Irenaeus).  Both Eve and Mary were presented with choices in their lives.  Mary made a fundamentally different choice than Eve.  When presented with the opportunity to choose what God wanted versus what she wanted, Mary chose God.  In this single choice, by this one young girl, our Redemption was born.  Mary’s selfless surrender to God’s will made her “full of grace” as she received the Word of God into the depths of her being.  The Incarnation of Jesus, God becoming a human being, is the greatest mystery of all time, and Mary’s role as Christ’s mother fascinates us.
 
St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) was the founder of the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.  He was a philosopher and spiritutal writer whose first principle and the foundation of his thoughts is: “Man is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means to save his soul.”  Mary’s quiet life exemplified this holy dedication of praise, reverence, and service.  Every time Scripture speaks of Mary, she is prayerfully doing God’s will and leading others to salvation through Her son.  We are attracted to her holiness because we hunger for that which is holy and blessed.  Because we hunger for God.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is approachable, comforting, maternal.  Christ gave her to each of us as our own mother, as He died on the Cross for us (John 19:26).  In her maternal holiness, she seems more like one of us, only better.  She makes sanctity seem more possible for the rest of us. She makes us believe we can be a saint.   
 
Mary calls us to the holiness that St. Ignatius writes about.  Of all the Saints in heaven, it is Mary who most often and most profoundly speaks to our spiritual imagination.  She has appeared to countless people in visions over the centuries: in apparitions, in dreams, in poetry and in art.  Even today, when she isn’t on the cover of Time, her image is all around us.  For many people one of the most moving aspects of the film The Passion of the Christ, was the relationship between Mary and her Son—their immeasurable love and devotion for one another, many times expressed without words but in a tender look or loving touch.  The immediacy of their loving presence to each other is what we all yearn for in our own relationship with Christ.  Mary shows us how to live a Christ-centered life.  After 2000 years, she’s still pointing us the way to her Son.  “Do whatever He tells you to do.” (John 2:5).
 
“When Gabriel hit the bright shore of the world, yours were the eyes saw some star-sandalled stranger walk like lightning down the air; the morning the Mother of God loved and dreaded the message of an angel.”
       –Thomas Merton                                                                      
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