Mary, Mother of God 21

Agios Theotokos of the Inexhaustible Chalice

Agios Theotokos of the Inexhaustible Chalice

I asked a simple question in a Catholic/Protestant discussion group yesterday, knowing it would spark mixed reactions:

Jesus is God; Mary is the mother of Jesus; Mary is the mother of God. Any objections?

The only objection that came out of the group was:

Is Mary the mother of Jesus according to the flesh? Yes. Is Deity constituted by family relationships? No. Did Mary exist before time began? No. Does Mary share any of the essential attributes of the Trinity? No. Is Mary worshiped? No. Does the NT identify Mary as the “Holy Mother of God?” No. Is God’s existence contingent upon Mary? No. Should followers of Christ be referring to Mary as the Mother of God? No.

Most of these are solid points that I can’t disagree with. But they are not all spot on objections. For instance, if you ask “Does Mary share any of the essential attributes of the Trinity?” followed by, “Does the NT identify Mary as the Holy Mother of God?” then I have to ask, exactly where does the NT identify God as the Trinity?

I think whatever answer you give to that question can be applied to Mary’s status as Holy Mother of God.

Here’s how I would explain Mary’s motherhood in response to all these objections. Christians believe in the hypostatic union — that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man; the man was God, and that God became a man. In virtue of the incarnation, the Word who was with God in the begging and who was God, for all eternity, became flesh. So the mother of Jesus according to the flesh… follow me on this…  gave birth to God.

Mary is the Mother of God, clear and simple.

I like the way the Icon at the top of this post represents this reality. Jesus Christ in his totality, is the son of Mary. Contemplate that as long as you can. You’ll never exhaust it!

21 comments

  1. It is useful to note that Christ is not a human person, but a divine person with two complete natures: the divine nature He received from God the Father from all eternity, and a human nature He received from Mary at a certain point in time. We do not say that a mother gives birth to a nature, but to a person. The person to which Mary gave birth is a divine person, the Son of God. Hence, she is logically called Mother of God. God bless!

    • Excellent point! Now, most people, even Catholics will get stumped on the question of whether or not Christ was a human person — to which the answer is No, as you point out. He is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, who assumed human nature.

      Your observation is excellent, because as you point out, Mary gave birth to a person, not a nature (if she gave birth to human nature then logically she would be the mother of us all, not in the spirit, but according to our very nature, and that’s obviously not so). So it is very important to point this out. If Jesus is a person, Mary gave birth to that person, that person is God, because the person is a divine person, what is the only thing you can conclude? You said it!

  2. I have an issue with the retort that the NT doesn’t identify Mary as the Holy Mother of God- the NT says many times the Jesus is the Christ, son of God our Father- and is God as part of the Holy Trinity. Mary is his mother, and to imply she wasn’t holy is like putting your best china in a flimsy, rotted-out box…You just wouldn’t do it! Most Protestants don’t recognize the Immaculate Conception, but God wouldn’t have his only son in anything less than Immaculate.

    • Good points, Patrick. Of course she was holy! According to an angel sent by God, she was “kecharitomene — highly favored and “full of grace”!

      The words Holy Mother of God are obviously not in the Bible, but Elizabeth did say “who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me.”

      Of course there are distinctions to be made — Lord can mean noble one. But there’s also a connotative sense of Adonai in the Scriptures. So Elizabeth hints at it, backed up by St Thomas who affirms Jesus as “My Lord and my God.” Thanks for your comment.

  3. My seven year old granddaughter, Lucia, put it very succinctly: “Without Mary we wouldn’t have Jesus. So Mary is very important, Noah!” (explaining this to her 9 year old brother at Christmas.) Without getting too bogged down in theology we must remember that Jesus said we must be like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. Perhaps discussing less and being open like Lucia we’d be better off!

  4. If there is any one or thing that can lead me closer to Our Lord, I have bet my eternity on the fact that it is His Mother. I will even give odds of a million to one. Any takers?
    (Pascal, please forgive my shameless theft)

  5. I read all the posts on this on All Along Watchtower and explanations and scripture reference and this post but it looks like I remain thinking Mary Mother of God is really pagan and far out. All of that would be eliminated for me if it was agreed that Mary is to be revered as the vessel chosen to bring Christ and leave out Mother of God stuff. Brought to extended thought that seems to mean God and His wife Mary created the universe just like all the pagan stuff. No sense trying to explain it to me and I think that I will just keep the idea Mary is to be revered and leave it at that without all the complication you and others feel are not complicated at all and are comfortable with your understanding. The bottom line is faith is not contingent on this concept as we try to live charitable lives. That’s all.

    • Of course, Mary is to be revered. And of course, you know the Catholic Church does not teach or believe that Mary was involved in the creation of the universe or any other pagan stuff. It simply means she gave birth to the man who is God. I understand how the title, mother of God can give the type of impression you have, even if that’s not what we mean, at all. It is good that we can respect each other’s faith, and as you said, live charitable lives, which is the most important thing. Thanks, Carl.

      • I”t simply means she gave birth to the man who is God.” I can go with that just fine as long as it doesn’t get more complicated. But then using Son of God for Jesus too starts the mix up all over again for me.

      • I can also see how Son of God can cause confusion, since Jesus is God. Son of God is a Scriptural name given, as is Son of Man, and we also know him as God he Son, i.e., the Second Person of the Trinity. It’s not worth getting into it right now, but these names all have their theological connotations. What is the important thing, though? Jesus is God. I like keeping simple faith simple, when that’s all that is necessary.

        Well, perhaps this post on Mary had parts that weren’t as simple. Sometimes we scale it up, sometimes we scale it down. Personally, I’d rather keep to my simple faith than have a heady, heartless belief.

  6. We to know that our Lady Mary is mother of God and Jesus.
    Please if us to can read the Lumen Gentium.To can learn very much about our Mother Mary.

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