January 1, 2009 – Solemnity of the Holy Mary Mother of God
Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of death.
I have heard the question many times – Why do Catholics worship Mary? The questioning people often believe that Catholics treat Mary as a goddess. The questioning people may even say Catholics commit idolatry by worshipping a statue of Mary. Does calling Mary the Mother of God feed these challenging questions? Possibly, yet exploring the history of Mary’s title Mother of God sheds answers and insights onto these questions.
In the 4th and 5th centuries, there was a debate about the nature of Christ. Some believed Christ was only human – a good teacher, example and person. Some believed Christ was only an angelic, spiritual or divine being. While others believed Christ was two separate persons –divine and human. The Church answered the debate by teaching Christ who was fully human and fully divine. You may beg the question why does it matter if Christ was fully human and fully divine? Jesus’ divinity reminds us that only God saves. Our salvation is earned through Christ not by anything we say or do. Jesus’ humanity reminds that Jesus was like us in all ways except sin. In other words, if Jesus was raised from the dead, then we have a hope that we to will be raised from the dead.
Mary gave birth to Jesus who was fully human and fully divine. To call Mary the Mother of God is primarily a statement about Jesus being God. All teachings in about Mary enhance our understanding of Christ or Christ’s promises. If we deny Mary as the Mother of God, then we deny Christ as being God. In Luke’s Gospel, Elizabeth cries out “how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk.1:43) Elizabeth’s prophecy is twofold – the Lord is coming dwell among his people and Mary is the Mother of God. Mary being the mother of God does not make Mary older than the eternal God rather it made her the mother of the second person in the Trinity.
As Mary was “blessed among women”(Lk. 1:42), we to are blessed to be here to celebrate the death and resurrection of Christ. In ancient times, God showered blessings upon Israel in order for them to be sign of God’s salvation for all peoples, so we are showered with God’s blessings in order to be a sign of God’s salvation to all peoples. A priestly blessing goes back to ancient times, and we continue this practice of blessing at the end of mass.
Through Mary’s yes to be the Mother of God, Jesus’ yes to hang upon the cross and God the Father’s yes to raise Jesus from the dead, we are rewarded with the precious gifts of human freedom and eternal life.
At this Eucharist, as the Prince of peace comes to us may we be blessed with Peace in order to share this peace with others especially with those in most need of peace.
Deacon Daniel Gurnick