Our Lady of Knock. Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mother of Divine Grace. Mother of Sorrows –
The particular website I looked up to list the titles or names of Mary ---- listed more than 200.
Mystical Rose. Our Lady of the Angels. Mary untier of knots – one of Pope Francis’ favorites. . .
All of this led me to wonder what title Mary would choose of herself. . .
My guess is that she would have shied away from the notion, would have strongly resisted doing such a thing – after all, choosing a title for ourselves does seem a bit presumptuous. . .
But if Mary had too – my guess would be her choice of LOWLY SERVANT –one of the translations of a well-known line from her Magnificat – the
hymn-like proclamation she makes to her cousin Elizabeth upon visiting her.
LOWLY SERVANT. The title seems to suit her, or at least suits how we imagine her to be. . . and are lead to believe in the Scriptures. LOWLY SERVANT: a title which could never be construed as something overly lofty, or self-centered, or reflecting any overt importance.
But what about “Mother of God?”
Now that’s a title that really sounds like something! Mother of God. It is filled with a sense of importance – an achievement of something lofty, powerful, and special.
And yet nothing could be further from the truth – for this title of Mary is at its core a faith-filled affirmation of the Incarnation – a resounding declaration that God really did become one of us – really broke into our world fully in the person of Jesus Christ – the one whom Mary bore and gave birth to.
In the first few centuries after the death and resurrection of Jesus, the faithful were wrestling with all sorts of big questions – questions surrounding exactly who Jesus was: just a man, totally God disguised as a human, some combination of the two. .
And so the institutional Church, through the power of the Holy Spirit, needed to settle some of these matters – needed to clarify for the faithful some of these profound truths. . .
And so it was at the Council of Ephesus in the year 431 – that the Church gave the formal teaching that Mary was to be referred to as Theotokos – a Greek word meaning “God bearer”.
This was the Church’s way of making sure the faithful knew that God the Son – the second person of the Holy Trinity – truly took on our human nature – and that Mary was indeed the one who bore him. Mary was the one whose YES to God resulted in the miracle of miracles – the word becoming flesh and dwelling among us.
And so while Mother of God – sounds like a lofty title – it is in fact the opposite: a title pointing to the profound truth that God chose a lowly path to come to us, chose a lowly way to enter our world, chose a lowly way of showing us the face of God.
Put simply – God bridged the gap between the divine and the human – refusing to simply sit in heaven and watch from afar.
And so whenever we call Mary by the title Mother of God ---- it’s a powerful reminder to us of what God was and is willing to do for us --- a powerful reminder of how much our God is concerned for us and cares about what happens to us --- a profound reminder of just how much God loves us --- more than we can ever imagine.
And so maybe Mary would be okay with a title after all: Mother of God.
May we always be grateful for Mary’s willingness to say yes to God’s will.
May we always give heartfelt thanks to God for her – for her courage and faithfulness which allowed her to play an indispensable role in salvation history.
And may we never forget that we, too, are called to do God’s work and help bring about a better world by saying yes to God’s will in our lives – for we each have our role to play in salvation history – and no role is more important than any other.
And it’s not about titles or roles or fame or attention that makes is important. What is important is the person God has created us to be – and go about being that person the best we can. Mary has shown us how. We thank God for her witness – and ask: Mary, mother of God –pray for us.
Moments in time...