There are four central beliefs in Christianity that directly involve the Blessed Virgin Mary;

  1. Mary was conceived in Her mother’s womb in a right relationship with God, that is, without original sin (CCC490ff).
  2. Mary was a virgin throughout her life (CCC 499ff).
  3. At the end of her life she was assumed into heaven body and soul (CCC 966ff).
  4. Most importantly, Mary is the Mother of God (CCC 495ff).

These doctrines are not, however, about St. Mary. They are about the mission and person of Christ. The Gospels of Matthew and Luke record the birth of Christ to make clear that God is His father and St. Mary, a human being, is His mother. We hear that in today’s Gospel (Luke 2:16 – 21). The shepherds go to see the child Jesus and tell people the message they had received from the angel, “I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10 – 11). Jesus Christ is the Divine Word who is the human being who will offer Himself for our salvation.

Christians have struggled for 2000 years with the concept that, as the Council of Chalcedon stated in 451AD, “Jesus Christ is true God and true man.” There is a simple syllogism here: if A equals B, and B equals C, then A equals C. Is Jesus Christ the Divine Word, that is, God? Yes, the gospel writers emphasize that. Is Mary His mother? Again, yes, that is clear from the Gospels. Mary is the Mother of God.

The common misconception is that this doctrine implies that God came into existence at the birth of Christ. To try to clarify that error, we say in the Nicene Creed, “I believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, born of the Father before all ages…begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father.” God, of course, has no beginning or end, but enters into human existence for our salvation at the moment of the Annunciation (Luke 1:26 – 38) when the Blessed Virgin Mary accepted her role as Mother of God.

As the mother of our savior Jesus Christ, St. Mary certainly should be given due honor in the Church, but her role is really much deeper. Mary became the Mother of God because she humbly consented to participate in the salvation God chose to bring about.  Christ is still here with us today; in the teaching of the Church, in the praying community, and most especially, in the sacramental life of the Church.

The Second Vatican Council tells us (Lumen Gentium 11, CCC 1324) that the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life.  This is true because the Sacrifice of the Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the cross (CCC 1330, 1365 – 1367, Council of Trent 1562).  When we go to confession, we encounter God who forgives our sins.

The point here is that inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Church holds up before us the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Her cooperation with God’s plan of salvation. The words of Mary, when she accepted Her role in salvation history, are a prayer, a prayer that you and I should say every day, “let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).

Leave a Reply