Our Blessed Mother
The recent celebrations of Advent, the Immaculate Conception, and Christmas provide opportunities to reflect on our Blessed Mother as the woman chosen and created for a unique role in salvation.
She conceived the human nature united to the Word of God in her womb and can cherish the mysteries of God within her in a most intimate way (cf. Luke 2:19).
On the eighth day of Christmas, we celebrate the motherhood of Mary, which is the oldest and most important of all the Church’s teachings about the Blessed Mother. We have many celebrations throughout the year and honor Mary with many titles, such as Immaculata, Queen of heaven, and Mother of the Church, and many people have a special devotion to one of these, but her greatest and most important title is Theotokos (God-bearer or Mother of God). Her motherhood is God’s greatest gift to Mary; it is from it that all her other gifts come, and all the Church’s teachings about her depend on it: she was conceived without sin, preserved from personal sin, perpetually virgin, and assumed body and soul into heaven because of her identity as Mother of God.
This was reaffirmed in the fifth century when the title Theotokos became controversial. A sect came to prominence that promoted the false teaching that Jesus is not truly the Son of God, but a mere man with a special relationship to God. These sectarians ridiculed those who called Mary “Mother of God,” and it became a flashpoint in the controversy because someone’s belief about Jesus could be immediately deduced by whether he called Mary Theotokos. At the Council of Ephesus in 431, the Church resoundingly professed that Jesus is truly God and, on this account, the Holy Virgin Mary is the Mother of God, since she bore in the flesh the Word of God made flesh (cf. Galatians 4:4). As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote centuries later: a mother is mother of a person, not of a nature, and because God’s Word joined a human nature to his divine Person in the womb of Mary, she can be called the Mother of God.
By affirming that Mary is Theotokos, we profess that Jesus is truly God and has the power to save us, and that Mary, as his Mother, is ours also in the order of grace. And so, on the first day of the new year, we honor the Mother of God, who above all leads us to the Lord and points us to our destiny of happiness in him.