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Mary, Holy Mother of God, 01.01.23

The Son of God drew his humanity from Mary. Hers was a uniquely pure humanity, soaked with the fullness of grace and matured by the fullness of her freed yes to God. Being free from sin did not make her less human, because to sin is not human. It is inhuman to sin. Sin degrades our humanity. If sin were authentically human, then the forgiveness of sin would dehumanise us. In fact, the opposite is true: the forgiveness of sin humanizes us, restores our humanity to its true integrity. Mary was such an integral, complete human being.


And so there was no more human a Mother than Mary, no more human a Son than Jesus. Their cooperation together with the will of the eternal Father was the dawn and hope of the recovery of humanity. It is Jesus alone, of course, who brings about our salvation. But as Mother of the Saviour, Mary is also Mother of those who are saved.


A 5th century bishop called Nestorius said that Mary was not Mother of God but only Mother of Christ. He did not believe that the divine person of the Son of God really took human flesh to himself. The son born of Mary, he said, was only a human person called Jesus Christ, not the divine person of the Son of God. The two were entirely different, he said. The Son of God worked through the human person of Jesus but only in the same way he works through you and me. In other words, Nestorius denied the true incarnation of the Son of God who was born as Jesus and united in himself both a human nature and the divine nature. He therefore denied that Mary could be called the Mother of God.


But if Jesus is not the Son of God, then it was not the Son of God who suffered, died and rose again for us. If that were true, then we would not be redeemed, because the suffering, death and resurrection of simply another man, however good, cannot remove our sins or destroy our death. And so Nestorius’ view was rejected as heresy by the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD. It proclaimed instead that Mary is truly the Mother of the Son of God who united in his divine person both the divine nature he had from all eternity and the human nature he assumed at the moment of his conception.


The Son of God and Jesus Christ are one and the same divine person. Since Mary gave birth to this divine person, then she is truly the Mother of God. She is not the Mother of God the Father or of God the Holy Spirit. She is not some kind of goddess figure who somehow gave birth to the Trinity before the ages. She is rather the lowly handmaid of the Lord who, while yet a virgin, conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit the eternal Son of the Father and gave birth to Him as any Mother gives birth, and called him Jesus, the name which God the Father gave him by the word of the Archangel Gabriel. The title Mother of God is therefore very important because protects both the true divinity of the Son she bore and the true humanity he assumed from her, and that is why the Church celebrates this title on the octave of Christmas.


It was by the Holy Spirit that the Son of God was conceived as a man, born to redeem us and enable us to be adopted as sons and daughters of his Father. It is the same Spirit who has been given to us by Jesus in our baptism, enabling us to cry out “Abba, Father!” By the will of the dying Jesus, we have been given the gift of the Spirit to behold Mary as our Mother and to welcome her into our home. As She is Mother of the Son of God by the Spirit, so She is Mother of the adopted sons and daughters of God in the Spirit. Through Her, the Lord desires to draw us to Himself, to true humanity and to a true share in his divinity. As She drew Him to earth, She has been given the role and grace to draw us to heaven. During 2023, try to draw ever closer to your Mother in heaven and you will find yourself ever more immersed in the divinity and humanity of the Son of God.