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Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Mary, Mother of God


Theotokos Platytera, Elton Melon
 Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. This teaching is one of the four Marian Doctrines of the Catholic Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church confirms the teaching by instructing, "that Mary is truly 'Mother of God' (Theotokos)." (CCC 495)

In 431, the Council of Ephesus confirmed Mary as Mother of God, Theotokos. This was proclaimed to answer a heresy denying Jesus’ dual nature as both human and divine. The Council declared:
"We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her" (Formula of Union [A.D. 431]). 
Pope John Paul II explained the doctrine within the context of Vatican II and then expanded the Church's understanding of the doctrine in his 1987 encyclical, Redemptoris Mater:
4. The Second Vatican Council prepares us for this by presenting in its teaching the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and of the Church. If it is true, as the Council itself proclaims,8 that "only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light," then this principle must be applied in a very particular way to that exceptional "daughter of the human race," that extraordinary "woman" who became the Mother of Christ. Only in the mystery of Christ is her mystery fully made clear. Thus has the Church sought to interpret it from the very beginning: the mystery of the Incarnation has enabled her to penetrate and to make ever clearer the mystery of the Mother of the Incarnate Word. The Council of Ephesus (431) was of decisive importance in clarifying this, for during that Council, to the great joy of Christians, the truth of the divine motherhood of Mary was solemnly confirmed as a truth of the Church's faith. Mary is the Mother of God (= Theotókos), since by the power of the Holy Spirit she conceived in her virginal womb and brought into the world Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is of one being with the Father.9 "The Son of God...born of the Virgin Mary...has truly been made one of us,"10has been made man. Thus, through the mystery of Christ, on the horizon of the Church's faith there shines in its fullness the mystery of his Mother. In turn, the dogma of the divine motherhood of Mary was for the Council of Ephesus and is for the Church like a seal upon the dogma of the Incarnation, in which the Word truly assumes human nature into the unity of his person, without canceling out that nature.
5. The Second Vatican Council, by presenting Mary in the mystery of Christ, also finds the path to a deeper understanding of the mystery of the Church. Mary, as the Mother of Christ, is in a particular way united with the Church, "which the Lord established as his own body."11 It is significant that the conciliar text places this truth about the Church as the Body of Christ (according to the teaching of the Pauline Letters) in close proximity to the truth that the Son of God "through the power of the Holy Spirit was born of the Virgin Mary." The reality of the Incarnation finds a sort of extension in the mystery of the Church-the Body of Christ. And one cannot think of the reality of the Incarnation without referring to Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word.
Mary is our Holy Mother too. Although He was on the verge of death, Christ called out to John from the cross, "Behold your mother!" (John 19:27). Furthermore, since Mary is the mother of Christ, who is head of the Church, she is also Mother of the Church.

I will conclude with this simple, logical syllogism: Jesus is God. Mary is the mother of Jesus. Therefore, Mary is the mother of God.