Mary, Our Mother
The Feast of Mary, Mother of God
Today's Entrance Antiphon proclaims, “A light will shine on us this day....” God’s light shone in a special way when the Church declared it a dogma of faith at the Council of Ephesus, 431 A.D., that Mary is rightly called “Mother of God.” This doctrine was defined, not because of what it says about Mary, but because of what it says about Jesus; that we must not “divide” Jesus by separating his humanity from his divinity, as some at the Council would have done by specifying that Mary was mother of Jesus’ humanity — or of his body only — but not of his divinity, and therefore not “mother of God.” The Church’s answer was that our mothers are the mothers of all we are, whole and entire; and therefore Mary is the mother of everything Jesus is as both God and man.
The dogma was defined to say something about Jesus. But it also says something about Mary and about us. In the Prayer After Communion in today's Mass, we “proclaim the Virgin Mary to be the mother of Christ and the mother of the Church,” and we pray that “our communion with her Son” will “bring us to salvation.”1 What this says is that if Mary is really the Mother of all Jesus is, and if we have really “become Christ” by Baptism, by being incorporated into his body, then Mary is really our Mother as well. And we are really “sons and daughters of the Father.” Our “salvation” is to share in God’s divine life through our union with Jesus. If that union is real, then everything that follows from it is real also.
This tells us that, as we begin the New Year, we need to do so conscious of what we really are, of how we are really called to live, and of what we are really called to do, precisely as divine-human continuations of the divine-human life of Jesus on earth.
1 Literally, the Latin text asks that “your heavenly sacraments,” which “we have joyfully received” will “lead us to eternal life.” Receiving the sacraments expresses and increases the communion with Jesus we received at Baptism with the gift of “grace,” which means the “favor” of sharing in God’s own life.
Daily Practice: Spend time in prayer considering how you feel about the start of the New Year. Does the celebration of Mary as Mother of God help you to orient yourself as you begin it? What does this feast mean to you personally?
Prayer: With joy and love, pray the Hail Mary- at midnight, if you happen to be awake to ring in the New Year!