Saturday, December 31, 2016

2017/01/01 What's in a Name?

What’s in a name?  We call Mary the “mother of God”.  But, she’s got more names than anybody I can think of:  our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady of Lourdes, our Lady of Fatima, Undoer of knots, I could go on… But THIS name is key to our Faith.  If we don’t believe Mary is the Mother of God, our Faith collapses… If you don’t believe me, let’s look at some history and see what kind of arguments it started… and follow that argument it to its logical conclusion.

In the early 400’s, this was not a dogma of the Church…meaning, Mary was not yet “officially” declared to be Mother of God.  Most dogmas, in fact, are not defined until someone tries to prove it’s not true.  In this case, MANY people in the Church had started calling Mary “Theotokos” – which is Mother of God…or more literally ‘God Bearer’.  However, a guy from Syria named Nestorius thought that was demeaning to God… if God was born of a woman, then that makes God human.  So he decided to use a different term “Christokos” – which is ‘Christ Bearer’.  Seems like a simple, innocent change of a word – why should anybody care?  People DID care – in fact, Pope Celestine along with the council of Ephesus ex-communicated Nestorius over this simple, innocent change of a word.

Theologians were adamant that ‘Christ Bearer’ ended up dividing Jesus into two persons:  the human Jesus and the divine Jesus.  To deny that Mary gave birth to God is to deny the divinity of Jesus… and if Jesus wasn’t divine, then that would shake the very foundations of our Faith, because he as much as told us he was God!  Think about that yourself for a moment:  First – do you believe Jesus was/is God?  Second – do you believe He was God when he was two years old?  Third – do you believe He was God while still in the womb of Mary?  While He was in the womb is when Elizabeth declared, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?”  Even Elizabeth recognized the fetus was God.

What we believe about Mary is important because it directly impacts what we believe about Jesus.  Actually – there’s a line in the second reading which helps us understand:
     When the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son,
     born of a woman, born under the law,
     to ransom those under the law,
     so that we might receive adoption as sons.

Born of a woman – born under the law – because only someone born under the law could fulfill the law.

God sent his Son – who is the second person of the Trinity – which means He IS God!  Humanity in its fallen state could NOT fulfill the law, so God had to do it to take away the sins of the world.  Only God could adopt us into His family as sons and daughters.  If Jesus wasn’t divine, then you and I are still immersed in our sins and we’re all damned!

What’s in a name?  Everything.  No Mary, No Jesus.

Since Mary IS the mother of God – and Jesus is our brother – then Mary is OUR mother too.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to her.  A mother loves unconditionally – and she loves you and me as much as she loved our brother, Jesus.

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