The Mother of God

Carnazzo, Rev. Hezekias

Having celebrated the great feast of the Nativity of Christ, the Church draws our attention to the figure of Mary, Mother of God.  In the midst of this festal season, a season which draws all Christians together to worship the Savior of the World, we are confronted with a sad division.  The person of Mary, an image of humility, is today attacked by Fundamentalist Protestants on the basis of her most glorious title: Mother of God.  Why?
In hopes of distancing themselves from historic Catholic teaching, many Protestants today go to great lengths to explain away what is not only historic and authentic Christian doctrine, but also a clear logical argument.  Who is Mary?  The question “Who is Mary?” is founded upon a further question: “Who is Jesus?”  If Jesus is God (as all faithful Protestants believe), and Mary is the mother of Jesus (as all Protestants agree), then Mary is the mother of God.  With such a simple logical argument, how can there be a problem?  Clearly, the only way to avoid the conclusion that Mary is the mother of God is to draw a division between Jesus (the human) and the divine Son of God.  A little historical background may help.

In the fifth century, on Christmas day, the bishop of Constantinople, a man by the name of Nestorius, climbed to the pulpit of one of the greatest Churches in all of Christendom and declared in his sermon before the crowd of faithful that Mary was only the mother of Christ, not the mother of God.  Drawing a division between the second person of the Holy Trinity and the man, Christ, Nestorious said that Mary could not be the mother of God, since that would make Mary older than God.  Thus Christ, to whom Mary gave birth, was simply a human person who was closely united to the person of the Word.  In response to this claim, the bishops of the world convened an ecumenical council at Ephesus in the year 433, and condemned the heresy of Nestorius.  In upholding the ancient title Mother of God, the bishops of the council at Ephesus explained that Christ Jesus is one divine person with two natures.  Since a mother gives birth to a person and not simply a nature, Mary is truly the Mother of God, not as the origin of divinity, as Nestorius mistakenly concluded, but as the one through whom the eternal Word of God was born and from whom He received his human nature.

Thus, it is impossible to deny the divine maternity of Mary without also calling into question the divinity of Christ.  Modern Protestants who deny that Mary is the Mother of God, while attempting to hold to a belief in the divinity of Christ find themselves is a very difficult position, to say the least.  In hopes of freeing themselves from the perceived bondage of Catholicism, Fundamentalists find themselves in a logical denial of the most fundamental teaching of all: the divinity of Jesus.

Let us therefore denounce the errors of those who attack the Most Blessed Virgin and Mother of God, and let us receive with joy, and take as our own the great proclamation of the Holy Council of Ephesus:

We confess, then, our Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, perfect God and perfect man, of a rational soul and a body, begotten before all ages from the Father in his Godhead, the same in the last days, for us and for our salvation, born of Mary the Virgin according to his humanity, one and the same consubstantial with the Father in Godhead and consubstantial with us in humanity, for a union of two natures took place. Therefore we confess one Christ, one Son, one Lord. According to this understanding of the unconfused union, we confess the holy Virgin to be the Mother of God because God the Word took flesh and became man and from his very conception united to himself the temple he took from her” (Formula of Union [A.D. 431]).

Posted by Deacon Sabatino Carnazzo

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