Saturday, 14 May 2011
This originated as I was responded to comments on my posts about John Paul II's beatification and about Mary as the mother of God. These come from kk_grayfox
I will never cease to marvel at why Catholics insist on calling Mary the mother of God. The mother of Jesus the human is fine. Yes, Jesus was God and man, but obviously God existed long before Mary did, and since He created her, you can just as easily call her "Mary, daughter of God". So would she then be Mary daughter and mother of God? For the most part I suppose it doesn't really matter, but I still find it odd.
You ask: "I will never cease to marvel at why Catholics insist on calling Mary the mother of God."
I have a few points to help with this:
1) Calling Mary "mother of God" actually has more to do with Christ than it does with Mary. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, they hammered out that that means he has both a human nature and a divine nature, though he is one person, a divine person of the Trinity, the Son. (That was the Council of Chalcedon in 451, which is readily accepted by Protestants as well as Catholics).
Because Christ is both God and man, we do not divide him up. We don't say that he was conceived as a man then later the spirit came to him and he also assumed a divine nature. Who would be able to say when that was?
We believe what the Bible said which is that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and a child was conceived (Luke 2:35). Being consistent in our understanding of Christ, we believe that he was always God and man from the moment of his conception. This means that Mary gave birth to the one Christ who was both man and God. Thus, the "mother of God" as the Council explained. Calling Mary the mother of God is meant to recognize the fact that Jesus was fully God at his birth rather than something he later assumed.
The things we believe about Mary are not things we decided to make up, they are logical conclusions of what we believe as taught in the Bible about Jesus.
2) You have a point about the creation thing. When we say 'Mother of God" we do not mean that Mary created God; obviously he existed before she did. We simply mean that Mary nurtured, gave birth to and raised Jesus Christ, who was God the whole time. (This is the same reasons Christians traditionally say that "God died on the cross." Jesus was fully God and he died. Of course, it doesn't mean that God ceased to exist or anything like that. It is a mystery that recognizes Jesus' simultaneous full divinity and humanity).
3. Yes, Mary certainly was a daughter of God. In fact, tradition has called her: Daughter of the Father, Wife of the Spirit and Mother of the Son. She truly has a unique relationship with all three persons of the holy trinity. This is why Christ calls her "woman" in the Gospels, not mother or Mary. Her relationship to him (as a member of the God-head) makes it impossible for him to know her only as mother. So the briefest, accurate title for her is simply "woman."
Ok cool, I hope this was helpful. See you 'round!
Does this help clear up anything you had been unsure about? How do you understand Mary and her sole as Jesus's mother? How can we approach the topic of Mary with an eye for unity?