"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you! Blessed are you among women!"
Some Christians criticize the Catholic Church for elevating Mary with the title: Mother of God. They claim that this title for Mary is not found in the Bible.
Now it may be true that the Bible does not dogmatically teach Mary as the Mother of God; however, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth refers to Mary as "the mother of my Lord":
And it came about that Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, "Blessed among women are you, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" [Luke 1:41-43; NASB]
The title, lord, is generally given to the main provider. After the Babylonian captivity, Jews commonly referred to God as Lord, especially since His name, YHWH, could not be uttered. Most modern English translations of the Old Testament render the Tetragrammaton, YHWH, as LORD. Even The American Heritage Dictionary recognizes Lord (with a capital "L") as God.
The first chapter of Luke's Gospel frequently uses the title, Lord, for example: "the commandments and requirements of the Lord" [Luke 1:6], "the temple of the Lord" [Luke 1:9] and "an angel of the Lord" [Luke 1:11]. This title exclusively refers to God. It would be quite strange if "Lord" in Luke 1:43 would be an exception.
One may argue that Elizabeth uses the phrase "my Lord" instead of "the Lord", so it means something else. This argument is weak at best. Elizabeth as a devout Jew recognized God as her Lord. The psalmists refer to God as "my God" and "my Lord" as in Psalm 35(34):23.
Matthew's Gospel also supports Mary as the Mother of God. In the first chapter, Mary's Child is said to be conceived by the Holy Spirit:
... for that which has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. [Matt 1:20; also see 18]
This is definitely not a pregnancy conceived by normal means [Matt 1:23]. In the second chapter, the three Magi come to see the Christ Child:
And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him. [Matt 2:11]
Now the Magi were pagans; however, it is difficult to believe that St. Matthew would record their worship of the Child in such a positive manner, if Mary's Child was not God. If Mary is not the Mother of God, then the Bible in this verse would condone idolatry.
Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, in 428 A.D. declared that Mary could not be the Mother of God, since a creature could not bear the Creator. Later he also denied the Christ Child as God, since God could never be a helpless infant. Taking this faulty line of reasoning further, one must ask whether God really could suffer and shed His Blood on the Cross for our sins. The fundamental problem with Nestorius is that he did not completely accept the Incarnation [Galatians 4:4].
Even today some Christians claim that Mary was only the mother of Christ's human nature. This sounds plausible until one realizes the fact that a mother gives birth to a person and not a nature. When a woman gives birth to only nature, it is called a stillbirth.
Mary is not divine. Since God created her, she did not exist before God; however, as the Worthy Vessel (made worthy by God), she gave birth to the living Person, Jesus Christ. She gave birth to the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, God the Son, a Divine Person. Jesus Christ is a single Person and not two; He is not schizophrenic. As proclaimed by the Tome of Leo in the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.), Jesus is a Divine Person with two natures: a divine nature and a human nature. Since Mary is truly the Mother of the Person, Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ is truly God, then it logically follows that Mary is the Mother of God. To deny this conclusion, one must deny either that Mary is truly the Mother of Christ or that Christ is truly God.
It must be rightfully understood that God willed to be born of a woman (Gal. 4:4), to be a Child, to suffer and die on the Cross. Nothing is impossible for God, except to sin. The one Jesus Christ is truly the "Son of God" (Luke 1:35; John 1:14,18) and the "Son of Mary" (Luke 2:34). The denial of Mary as the Mother of God is a subtle attack against the true divinity of Jesus Christ and His Incarnation: "the Word was God [John 1:1] ... And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" [John 1:14].
Reverend M. James Divis, S.T.L.
Most Reverend Fabian W. Bruskewitz, D.D., S.T.D.
Bishop of Lincoln
February 11, 1993
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