As our Catholic readers know, this is the Solemnity (Holy Day) of Mary, Mother of God, one of the more significant liturgical celebrations in the Catholic calendar.
The confession of Mary as “Mother of God” presents a stumbling block for some non-Catholic Christians, but curiously it never did for me.
I think it was back in the Fall of 1992 when I was sitting in a course in Ancient Church History at one of the best Calvinist seminaries in America. Our professor, a devout Dutch Calvinist (like most of us students), was lecturing on the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus AD 431, the council that recognized Mary as “Theotokos,” “Mother of God” (or more literally, “Bearer of God”). He began to address the question, Can Calvinists confess Mary as “Mother of God”? He answered in the affirmative, granted that one understood this not as a claim for Mary’s motherhood of divinity itself, but in the sense that Mary was mother of Jesus, who is truly God. And that, of course, is precisely how the Catholic Church understands the term.
So far from being a cause of division, the common confession of Mary as “Mother of God” should unite all Christians, and distinguish Christian orthodoxy from various confusions of it, such as Arianism (the denial that Jesus was God) or Nestorianism (in which Mary mothers only the human nature of Jesus but not his whole person).
Happy feast day to all!
A brief commentary on the Readings: