Mary, Theotokos - Mother of God, Mother of the Members of Christ
Saturday marks the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God
The Mother of God - what a marvelous yet serious responsibility she carried. Indeed, this was an incredible trust given by God. Only His Sanctifying Grace which kept her from the stain of sin could prepare her for this. And, revealing the mystery of human freedom, her "Yes" participated in His loving plan.
'God is come among men; he who cannot be contained is contained in a womb. The timeless enters time.' Great Compline of the Annunication, Byzantine Catholic Church.
In 431 A.D. the Third Ecumenical Council, which was held at Ephesus, declared that the Blessed Virgin Mary was indeed the Theotokos, the Mother of God. While the Church had always believed this, it was officially declared by the Council primarily because of a heresy initiated by Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople.
He and his followers, called Nestorians for obvious reasons, taught that Mary was the mother of the humanity of Jesus and not his divinity. They wanted to divide His natures. As with everything about the blessed Mother, her very life as well as her titles, had everything to do with her son, our Savior Jesus Christ.
In declaring her "Theotokos," the Fathers were declaring once and for all that Christ was truly the union of God and man, fully human and fully divine, which theologians call the "hypostatic union."
As St. Cyril of Jerusalem declared, "A mother does not give birth to a nature, she gives birth to a person".
John Henry Cardinal Newman also reminds us that it was through her that the Lord received His human nature. He wrote, "Mary was no mere instrument of God's dispensation. The Word of God did not merely pass through her as He may pass through us in Holy Communion.
"It was no heavenly body which the Eternal Son assumed. No, he imbibed; he sucked up her blood and her substance into His Divine person. He became man from her and received her lineaments and her features as the appearance and character under which He should manifest Himself to the world.
"He was known, doubtless, by His likeness to her, to be her Son."
Mary, as the Mother of God, carried our Lord in her womb for nine months. I love the way the Byzantine Catholic Liturgy declares this in the Great Compline of the Annunciation. "God is come among men; he who cannot be contained is contained in a womb. The timeless enters time."
The Mother of God also carried Him in her heart always, as a true mother would. Her life would be consumed for her son alone. This is shown by St. Luke's conclusion to the account of the nativity when he states, "Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart."
We must remember that her role as the Mother of God was not that of a surrogate mother. Unfortunately, many Christians today leave her at the manger. She was His mother always and continues to be even now in heaven.
The Mother of God - what a marvelous yet serious responsibility she carried. Indeed, this was an incredible trust given to her by God.
She had to be the fountain of God's grace and virtues for she was the Mother of God! Only His Sanctifying Grace which kept her from the stain of sin could prepare her for this. And, revealing the mystery of human freedom, her "Yes" participated in His loving plan.
Concerning her immaculate state, the West had traditionally place more emphasis on what is absent - her sinlessness. The East, on the other hand, has focused more on what is present - her holiness. This state of grace is so critical in her position.
Mary was his first comforter, first nurturer, first nurse, first counselor, first teacher, first friend and first disciple.
She was the one who cared for Him as an infant, helped him take His first steps, bathed Him, combed His hair, put Him to bed each night and provided love and comfort as He grew.
Can you imagine what it would have been like if the Mother of God was "dealing with issues" in her life? Can you imagine, "I'm sorry, Son, but mommy is just not in a good place right now! "All of the impediments that decorate our daily lives through concupiscence would have marred her motherhood.
We know very little about the life of our Lord prior to His ministry. We have a couple of snippets including the account at the Temple at age 12.
Again, St. Luke summarizes His early life in one simple yet significant verse. In chapter 2, verse 52 of his gospel, Luke writes, "Jesus increased in wisdom and strength and in favor with God and man."
This overview describes how Jesus grew into manhood, maturing mentally, physically, spiritually and socially. In His divinity, He was fully God; in His humanity, he still was being formed and the Blessed Virgin Mary was a part of that.
Mary was always a part of our Lord's life. She was there to participate in His first miracle at the wedding in Cana. She followed Him even when the crowds were so large that she sometimes had to wait to talk to Him and have someone tell Him that she was there. She would not relent in following Him, refusing to leave even during the scourging and crucifixion when almost all the others had fled.
Her role as the Mother of God continues today as Queen and Mother of the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, "The Virgin Mary . . . is acknowledged and honored as being truly the Mother of God and of the redeemer.... She is 'clearly the mother of the members of Christ' . . . since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head. Mary, Mother of Christ, Mother of the Church."
Let us not pass by this day without spending time in thanksgiving for God's gift to us of the Blessed Virgin Mary or in meditating upon her most significant place in salvation history.
Pope John Paul II once wrote, "From Mary we learn to surrender to God's will in all things. From Mary we learn to trust when all hope is gone. From Mary we learn to trust her Son and Christ the Son of God."
This is truly the role of a mother - the Mother of God.
Randy Sly is the Associate Editor of Catholic Online and the CEO/Associate Publisher for the Northern Virginia Local Edition of Catholic Online (http://virginia.catholic.org). He is a former Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church who laid aside that ministry to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Blessed Virgin Mary, Mary, Theotokos, Mother of God, Mother, Immaculate Conception, Queen Mother
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