2017 is here! While New Year’s Day ushers in another new year for us as well as another challenge to be faithful to our New Year’s Resolution (for those who have made one), January 1st is also a very special day in the Church. On the first day of this new year, we honor Mary, the Theotokos. This Greek word can be translated as “God-bearer,” or as the more familiar title known as Mary, the “Mother of God.” Though it may not be easy to understand, there is simple logic behind it. If Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God. This is one of the truths of our faith and one of the four Marian dogmas of our Church. This dogma of Mary was established almost 1600 years ago by the Catholic Church in Ephesus, modern-day Turkey. “For this reason the Council of Ephesus proclaimed in 431 that Mary truly became the Mother of God by the human conception of the Son of God in her womb: ‘Mother of God, not that the nature of the Word or his divinity received the beginning of its existence from the holy Virgin, but that, since the holy body, animated by a rational soul, which the Word of God united to himself according to the hypostasis (the single, person of Jesus Christ with a human and divine nature), was born from her, the Word is said to be born according to the flesh’” (Catechism 466). Though this deeply held truth of our faith is not explicitly stated in Scripture, it is implicit at the Visitation, which will be stated momentarily, and it is a firmly held belief of our Tradition. Sacred Scripture does state that the beloved disciple (John) took Mary into his home. We understand this biblical truth as Jesus draws near to his death looking down from the cross. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home” (Jn. 19:26-27). According to Tradition, this home that Mary and John shared is believed to be in Ephesus, Turkey. In addition, the Catechism says that “called in the Gospels ‘the mother of Jesus,’ Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord” (Lk. 1:43; Jn. 2:1, 19:25; Mt. 13:55). In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos) (#495).
Mary is truly “Mother of God” since she is the mother of the eternal Son of God made man, who is God himself” (Catechism 509). May we honor Mary, the Theotokos on this solemnity of the new year that just as she was Jesus’ mother, the Mother of God, she may be our spiritual mother who intercedes for us and ever leads us to closer to her son, Jesus Christ. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at hour of death. Amen.
– Fr. Jeff