Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, Year C

Tuesday, January 1, 2019
Fr. Kyle
Homily transcription: 

In the Early Catholic Church of the 4th and 5th centuries, there arose a number of arguments and disagreements (not unlike today).  One of the arguments was about Mary.  A man named Nestorius who claimed that Mary should not be called the Mother of God.  His line of argument was basically that there were two different persons in Christ; one Divine (the 2nd person of the Trinity) and the other human (Jesus).  Nestorius claimed that Mary only gave birth to the human person while the divine person was somehow fused to Jesus after birth making him a sort of bipolar being the vacillates between being human and divine. 

Because of this teaching, a council was called in Ephesus to discuss exactly who Jesus was and how this whole humanity and divinity things worked out.  The Council in Ephesus in 431 looked to scripture, the Apostles and the early Church leaders to clarify that Jesus was not some bipolar God-man.  They saw that scripture speaks of Mary being “filled with the Holy Spirit”, “Overshadowed by the most high” and give birth to “the Son of God”.  Moreover, even dating back to the 200s in the East, Mary was being referred to as Theotokos or “God-bearer”.  So, the Council reaffirms that Jesus is fully human and divine.  He was 100 percent human being united with 100 percent God in one integrated person.  And Mary gave birth to this person.  Therefore, the Council of Ephesus restored that, Mother of God was an appropriate title for Mary as she gave birth to Jesus who was fully man and fully God.

Today we celebrate the feast of Mary, Mother of God.  But I think we take for granted how huge this whole debate was.  Nestorius’ claim was wrong mostly because he did not see how humans can mingle very closely with God.  What the Council of Ephesus affirmed and what we celebrate today is the dignity of our humanity.  That if Christ’s humanity can be integrated with divinity, then we human beings can be integrally united to God, the divine.  We celebrate that Mary’s humanity can bear the living presence of God in her very self.  


This feast day is good news for us because we share in the humanity of Christ.  We are humans just like Mary.  And so we too can become “God-bearers”.  As is prayed during the preparation of the altar, may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.