Every first of January, the Church celebrates the solemnity of Mary Mother of God. This title accorded to Mary could be one of the most disturbing to non-Catholics. Mary is the mother of God. But they would rather call her mother of Jesus, wife of Joseph than Mother of God. This is undoubtedly one of the doctrines that even some Catholics may be believing in without a full comprehension or even conviction of how this title is really bestowed on Mary. How can she who was fully human though Immaculate be the mother of God? This title of Mary as mother of God first manifested itself in the council of Ephesus in 431 in which a one Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople refuted that Mary could not be theotokos, but instead christotokos that is, not bearer of God but bearer of Christ, respectively.
The title of mother of God has been bestowed on Mary by the Church and she is so indeed. As a mother, she took care of the son of God, incarnate in her by the Holy Spirit. There are many other titles of Mother bestowed on Mary in her litany, Mother most chaste, Mother most pure, Mother of good counsel, Mother of our creator, Mother of our savior, and many others. There is a strong element of motherhood in the role and person of the blessed virgin Mary. Not only does this arise from her role of generation but also in the care and concern she showed to the Son of God and that she still continues to show to humanity as intercessor and mediatrix of God’s grace. As a mother, Mary understands the pains of her children but also understands the grace and compassion of her son Jesus Christ who is God. The title of mother is also what Jesus conferred on her at the cross when he gave her to the beloved disciple (John 19:25). There at calvary, the mother of the son of God, became the mother of all who love Jesus, who love God.
Mary’s title does not come from nowhere, but in her role and response to the annunciation. Through the angel Gabriel, God the father spoke to her. Through the fact of the incarnation, God became man and dwelt in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary. Throughout her life, she was kept spotless, without the stain of sin and thus the incarnation through the Holy Spirit found in her a worthy dwelling that she could bear the son of God. This justly inferred on her the title of mother of God because of her collaborating with the salvific plan. This is also an affirmation of the Trinitarian doctrine. God the father spoke through the angel, the power of the Holy Spirit came upon her and the son of God was incarnate in her.
And thus, if Jesus proceeds from the Father through the Holy Spirit, then He is truly God and as a son of Mary, we can firmly affirm that she is the Mother of God since Jesus her son is God. The three persons of the Holy Trinity are equal, each is God, yet God is one. The distinction comes about on the way of manifestation or revelation to humanity, God the father as the Creator, the origin of all things, God the son as the word incarnate, the redeemer, and God the Holy Spirit as the sanctifier.
Mary as a mother unites God with humanity. Her acceptance to carry the son of God brings divinity closer to humanity and it is through this her role that humanity had the privilege to interact, to feel and to savor the presence of God.
By Fr. Nicholas Onyait MCCJ