The title “Mother of God” is the Western church’s equivalent of the ancient Eastern title Theotokos, which means “God-bearer.” In 431, the Council of Ephesus sanctioned the title Theotokos for Mary as a way of declaring and protecting the divinity of Christ. The title declares the most important truth about Mary: She is the Mother of God.
When we celebrate this feast [January 1], we honor not only Mary but Jesus, true God and true man. We proclaim the glorious truth that in Mary’s womb the Second Person of the Trinity united himself completely with our humanity. “Taking a body like our own, because all our bodies were liable to … death, he surrendered his body to death in place of all… . Through this union of the immortal Son of God with our human nature, all were clothed with incorruption” (St. Athanasius, On the Incarnation, 8,9).
In Mary, we see the portrait of one who knew God’s shining face upon her, filling her with grace (Numbers 6:25). Looking upon her with love and showering her with divine blessings, God prepared her to say “yes” to his plan that she bear his Son into this world. As Mary consented in faith, the Father gave her his peace (6:26), continually encouraging her to trust him as she saw his plan unfold. How deeply she must have needed this peace, as she faced dangerous and frightening circumstances such as giving birth in a faraway city in a cave, or fleeing to Egypt in the dead of night (Luke 2:4-7; Matthew 2:13-15). In each situation, Mary learned to trust more fully that God would bless her and keep her (Numbers 6:24).
Because the Son of God took flesh in Mary’s womb, we too can share in these glorious blessings. We have been baptized into Christ; we have a share in his humanity. We are heirs of the blessings that God gave to Israel and in a particular way to Mary, the beloved Daughter of Zion.
Like Mary, we can walk confidently in the blessing and peace of the Lord. The Son of God, who left his throne to become one like us, has conquered sin and death for all of us. Each day, we can freely receive the life of Jesus into our hearts simply by responding “yes” to the Lord’s call, just as Mary did. By Jesus’ sanctifying blood, we have been made vessels of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to cry out “Abba! Father!” as true sons and daughters of God (Galatians 4:6-7). The Lord is not far off, but very near; indeed he dwells within us through his Holy Spirit. Let us turn to him and allow his blessing, grace, and mercy to shine upon us.
Points for Meditation:
* As Mother of God, Mary bore Jesus into this world. Now, as Jesus’ sisters and brothers (Mark 3:35), we are called to follow Mary’s example and bring the life and love of God to others. How can we be “God-bearers” to our families, our coworkers, our friends? How can we bear Christ into a needy world?
* Mary was open to God’s call for her life. Is there something specific God is calling you to do? Have you responded with Mary’s “yes”? If not, what is holding you back?
* Do you feel an inner peace that comes from God? Is there something in your life that makes you feel less than peaceful? If so, can you identify it? Are there steps you can take to alleviate any anxiety you may be feeling?
Holy Spirit, come into my life deeply and powerfully this year. Fill me with Jesus and his words, as you filled Mary. Help me to live and proclaim the gospel of Jesus.