Mary Mother of God

If Jesus is God, Mary is Mother of God – that is the simple logic of reason.

Quite some time ago I was asked this question. How can Mary be the Mother of God? She did not exist before God, then how can she be the Mother of God? It is not in this way of human thought process that we understand Mary as the Mother of God. The words ‘Mother of God’ is not found in scripture. However we need to prayerfully see if  “the concept of Mary, Mother of God” is taught in scripture?

Scriptural Reference of Mary as Mother of God

1) From Luke 1:39 onwards we read about Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Verse 41 states how Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit addresses Mary as blessed, in verse 42 and in verse 43 asks ‘And why has this happened to me that the Mother of my Lord comes to me?” The word ‘Lord’ in the New Testament refers to God. Here we see Elizabeth being filled with the Holy Spirit not addressing Mary by her name but addressing her as ‘Mother of my Lord’.

2) In Galatians 4:4 we read, “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman… All Christians (Catholic and Protestant) believe that Jesus was both God and Man when He walked this earth (i.e., He had two natures but one divine person). This one divine person was born of Mary, hence addressing Mary as ‘Mother of God’ is appropriate.

The title “Mother of God” (in Greek “Theotokos”, or “God-bearer”) was used at the Council of Ephesus in 431 to protect Jesus’ divinity against the heresy of Nestorius, who claimed that Mary gave birth only to Jesus’ human nature. This meant that Christ’s human nature was split from His divine nature and that created two separate persons, a major heresy that was rejected by the Council. The protestant reformers Martin Luther and John Calvin accepted Mary’s divine maternity and believed that she was the ‘Mother of God.’

3) A further question may be asked in regard to Mathew 12:46-50.
While he was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’

This verse is quoted by fundamentalists stating that Jesus did not give importance to His mother, Mary. But let us look prayerfully and carefully in scripture. As a true Son to His parents Jesus would have obeyed the commandment to honour His parents by being obedient (Luke 2:51). Referring to Luke 1:38, we see Mary giving herself freely by stating ‘let it be with me according to Your word’. This means she said YES to the will of God, she said YES to the word that the angel brought to her. Hence by saying Yes and doing God’s will she in this aspect is truly the Mother of God.

Notice in John 2:6, how Mary says to the servants “Do whatever He tells You.” Mary was guiding the servants to do whatever Jesus commanded them to do, which was to do the will of God in that particular situation.

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Another verse quoted stating that Jesus did not give importance to His mother is Luke 11:27-28. “While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, ‘Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!’ But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

St. Augustine states, “while the Lord was passing by, performing divine miracles, with the crowds following him, a woman said: Fortunate is the womb that bore you. And how did the Lord answer, to show that good fortune is not really to be sought in mere family ties? Rather blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk 11:27-28). So that is why Mary, too, is blessed, because she heard the word of God and kept it.” Ref: Luke 2:19, 51b.

Mary as our Mother

Youcat [85]: Mary is our mother because Christ the Lord gave her to us as a mother. “Woman, behold your son! …Behold, your mother!” (Jn 19:26-27). The second command which Jesus spoke from the cross to John, has always been understood by the church as an act of entrusting the whole church to Mary. Thus Mary is our mother too.

Notice in Jn 19:25-27 the name of the disciple is not mentioned. Tradition has it as John the apostle. We are also Disciples of Christ. If we substitute our name for the word ‘disciple’ mentioned, we will notice that from the cross in verse 27 Jesus said to the disciple “Here is your mother” and from that hour the disciple took her into his own home. Jesus is also saying to us “Here is your mother”.

The church Fathers agreed to the teaching of Mary as the Mother of God.

St. Gregory the wonder-worker. “For Luke, in the inspired Gospel narratives, delivers a testimony not to Joseph only, but also to Mary, the Mother of God, and gives this account with reference to the very family and house of David” [A.D. 262]. Ephraim the Syrian: “Though still a virgin she carried a child in her womb, and the handmaid and work of his wisdom became the Mother of God” [A.D. 351].

The above mentioned points may clarify doubts about Mary as Mother of God but it takes a move of the Holy Spirit to be convinced about it.

Prayer: O Holy Spirit, in Jn 16:13 we read that You are the ‘Spirit of Truth’. Please lead us and guide us in Truth, especially in the teachings of the church. Give us the grace to read and study with discipline the Word of God, the catechism and all necessary catholic information that we require to build and stay strong in our mother church. There are many who have left and they question and criticise us regarding our faith. Help us not to harbour anger towards them but to be patient with them. Reveal the Truth to them for only the Truth can set them free. Heavenly Father, I make this prayer through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

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– – – written by Patrick Horne