Oh, Mary….

  
Mary is the Mother of God.

Why would such a simple statement cause some Christians apprehension? The title “Mother of God” has been applied to Mary since the earliest days of the Church. “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to His word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God.” (St. Irenaeus, 189 A.D.) All of Christ’s followers believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus Christ and that Jesus Christ is God. It would follow logically that Mary is the Mother of God. Sacred Scripture affirms that Mary is the Mother of God when her relative Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit proclaimed: “And why is it granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43)

Being the Mother of God does not mean that Mary is somehow “older” than God, or that she created God, or originated Christ’s divinity, or that she is herself, divine. Mary is a person made by God whose faith in Him allowed the Incarnation of our Savior. The Council of Ephesus was held by the Church in 431 A.D. and one of the outcomes of this Council was to declare the doctrine of Mary as the Mother of God. In Greek, the title is “Theotokos” or “God-bearer.” At the time, there were some in the Church who were teaching that Mary gave birth to Christ, but not God. Taught by Nestor, the bishop of Constantinople, this heresy held that Christ was a human person who was joined to the Second Person of the Trinity. Nestor believed that the human Jesus died on the Cross, but not the divine Jesus. These teaching were found to be heresy because they deny both the Incarnation and our redemption through Christ’s death and resurrection.

The truth is that Mary said “yes” to the Lord and gave birth to a person, Jesus Christ, not a nature. Women give birth to babies, not natures; to people, not bodies. Christ is fully God and fully man in a mystery of faith that we can’t comprehend with our limited understanding. The Gospel tells us that the Word did not unite with man, but was made man. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). But Mary wasn’t merely a human incubator. She was called by God to be His Mother in every sense of the word. She nursed Him, cared for Him, comforted Him and raised Him up in a Godly home.

So, if Mary is the mother of Jesus and Jesus is truly God, then Mary is the Mother of God. Calling Mary “the mother of Jesus” but denying her the title of “Mother of God” diminishes Jesus, for it denies that He is truly and fully God. Furthermore, if we believe, as Scripture tells us, that Christ is our Brother, then Mary is our Mother, too.

Some might say that “paying all this attention to Mary distracts us from God.” Mary is the loveliest of God’s creatures, the one He handpicked to bring Salvation into the world. How can any of His creation distract us from the Creator? A beautiful sunset, a waterfall, a fragrant forest — doesn’t creation bring us closer to God? In honoring Mary, God’s masterpiece, we praise the Master, the Divine Artist. Others might say that “I don’t need Mary if I have Jesus.” Why not say “I don’t need the rest of my family if I have my father?” The Church is a single body; the different members inter-relate and rely on one another. “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I don’t need you!’ And the head cannot say to the feet, ‘I don’t need you!’ ” (I Col. 12:21) Jesus is our Savior and Redeemer, the Alpha and the Omega. His loving Mother, Mary, became our Mother as she watched her Son die on the Cross. He gave her to us at that moment, as a gift of His love. (John 19:26-27) Embracing Mary as the Mother of God, as our Mother, draws us ever closer to the Savior.

“The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” (St. Irenaeus, 189 A.D.)

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