This feast is a celebration of Mary’s motherhood of Jesus. The title “Mother of God” is derived from the Greek term Theotokos, the God-bearer. The feast emphasises both the humanity and the divinity of Jesus and it is both Mariological and Christological at the same time. It occurs during the octave of Christmas and at the very beginning of the New Year and signifies the role of Mary in the salvation process.
The Opening Prayer of the Mass for this Feast is addressed to God, who has given to humankind the blessings of salvation “through the fruitful virginity of Mary” and it asks that we may “experience the intercession of her through whom we were found worthy to receive the author of life….”
The mystery of Mary’s maternity is expressed in the Entrance Antiphon of the Mass: “Hail, holy Mother, who gave birth to the King, who rules heaven and earth for ever.” This implies God’s choice of her who is “full of grace” (Lk 1:28) as well as her consent: “Let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). The word “conceive” applies not only to the body but also to the spirit, as was stated by the Second Vatican Council: “The Virgin Mary, who at the message of the angel received the Word of God in her heart and in her body . . . is acknowledged and honoured as being truly the Mother of God and of the Redeemer…. Rightly, therefore, the Fathers see Mary not merely as passively engaged by God, but as freely cooperating in the work of salvation through faith and obedience” (Lumen Gentium #53 and 56).
The Church is known as the Mystical body of Christ and so Mary is mother of the Church in the same respect that she is mother of Jesus. Each of us makes up this mystical body and so Mary is our mother also. This must not be just a cliché that we hear all the time. We should take time to contemplate this maternal relationship.
This relationship takes us into our Catholic Culture that distinguishes us from other Christians – our devotion to our Blessed Mother. Devotion to Mary helps us grow into the likeness of Jesus since Mary must have taught Jesus how to care for the marginalised of his time; the blind, the lame, the sick, those who suffered afflictions. Mary would have taught Jesus how to pray. He was often found praying just as His mother did when the angel came to her. The Marian aspect of this feast provides us with an opportunity to ask Mary to truly be our mother as she was to Jesus. As Church, it helps us to recognise that we have a mother who is always there to nurture us. It also teaches us that we must be obedient like Mary and respond to the spirit to God. We must not be passive since Mary was not passive at all.
The Christological aspect of this feast helps us appreciate the nature of Jesus Christ our Saviour, our Way, our Truth and our Life. As human beings we are destined for unity with God. Our baptism brings us into union with Jesus Christ and by His power we overcome sin (grace of baptism).
This feast mingles the Mariological and Christological aspect of our faith. It points out how Mary can help us to become like Jesus, imitating his ways with her help of perfect maternal care. Through our Marian devotions such as the rosary we grow more like Jesus and respond to the human needs around us.
Marian devotions help us to become more Christ-like and to grow in close friendship with Jesus. Our intimacy with Christ will help us to live the life we were meant to live. – Archdiocesan Catechetical Office