Today’s Solemnity (our highest celebration in the Church) of Mary as Mother of God, is a part of the Octave of Christmas where we continue to discover what God has done in His great love for us. It is appropriate that our God who wants to express His great love for us uses the vehicle of a mother’s love to become part of our world.
It is hard to imagine that this celebration of God’s divine love divided Christians and still does. The criticism of Mary as the Mother of God, traditionally called “Theotokos,” from the Greek meaning, “she who is the bearer of the one who is God” is really not about Mary, but about the nature of Jesus. This solemnity is to mark that Jesus, although born human, is fully God. Those who deny Mary’s role in salvation history, often without realizing it, deny what God did in the incarnation.
Another way to see today’s celebration for what it is would be to reflect on the famous American painting “Whistler’s mother” (what is formally known as “Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1.”) While the picture itself is a picture of his mother, and has been called the Victorian Mona Lisa, it is a celebration of who Whistler was, an artist. His subject, his mother, was the vehicle he used to express his talents and gifts for the world. So too with Mary, she was a vehicle to express who Jesus is, God with us.
The big fight many have with Mary as mother of God is to say mother generally means that she predates her child, but Mary did not predate God. As Catholics, what we express by calling her mother of God is to affirm that she was mother of Jesus who is divine and human. No one can deny she was the mother of Jesus, and authentic Christians cannot deny that Jesus was divine (God).
Today’s celebration is really the celebration of Jesus as Emmanuel, God-with-us through the vehicle of Mary. At the same time, we celebrate her as mother of God, we celebrate that she is the mother of all of God’s children, us. To accept her as our mother is to accept her as our first teacher and what she always teaches us, her first words about her Son as He began His public ministry, was “do whatever He says.” That is what Mary teaches us best, to do what He says, that is what we do if we accept that God is with us, that is what we do if we understand what Christmas is about.
The coming weeks we will grow with the child Jesus to possess what He brought us, His divine self. We will do it with the help of His mother and ours as St Louis de Montfort said, to Jesus through Mary.
With a heart for Mission,