Can we talk about Mary this morning without someone thinking we are about to worship her? Can we call her the most “blessed” woman to ever live without being accused of Mariolatry? I say that partly in jest, but at the same time, I have heard that so very many times from well-meaning Christians who cringe when they hear her called the “Mother of God.” In some segments of Christianity, Mary is almost totally forgotten except at Christmas when the story of our Lord’s Birth is read. Our daily reading today is Luke 1:39-49,56 and it is about Mary.
The knee-jerk reaction some folks have over calling Mary the “Mother of God” is usually because they don’t understand that the title is really about Whom Jesus is and not about worshipping Mary. The Early Christians called Mary the “Theotokos”, meaning the “Bearer of God.” She is the one who gave birth to God come in the flesh, indeed the Mother of God. In the 5th century a leader of the Church named Nestorius began to teach that Mary was not “Theotokos” but was “Christotokos” (the bearer of Christ, not God). The Church came together in Ephesus in 431 to take a look at what Christianity had believed from the beginning. What did Jesus teach; what did the Apostles teach; what did their disciples teach?
That Ecumenical Council proclaimed the Truth that had been handed down through each generation from the beginning of the Church: Jesus is indeed God come in the flesh, very (true) God of very (true) God and that Mary gave birth to God come in the flesh for our salvation. It condemned the false doctrine of Nestorius. The title Theotokos was indeed the correct title for Mary because of the true identity of her Son. It is about Jesus that the title was bestowed on her and that title is still true today. Mary is the Mother of God…truly the Theotokos.
For those who also cringe when they hear Mary being called “Blessed” here are a few words today’s reading in the Holy Gospel of Luke:
“And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.” (Luke 1:46-49)
Anyone who truly believes and tries to follow the teachings of the Bible should definitely be calling Mary “Blessed”. “All generations” certainly includes us today. In fact, she is without doubt the most blessed woman to ever live. Through her obedience, she gave birth to our Lord Jesus Christ, God come in the flesh for our salvation.
Journeying with you to the empty tomb of our Lord…Fr. Stephen