Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Meditation


The origins of the title the “Mother of God” are obscure. What is clear is that the first completely authenticated instances of the use of the title came from the city of Alexandria. Alexander (the predecessor to Athanasius) referred to Mary as Theotokos in his encyclical of circa 319, in his defense against the heresy of Arius. It seems reasonable to conclude that this title already enjoyed widespread acceptance in the piety of the faithful at Alexandria and beyond. (Mary Through The Centuries, Pelikan, 1996)


In any study of Mary, in and in particular, in the study of her role in the redemption of the world, one of the issues that stands out in bright colors is that of her titles. Her titles illumine certain areas of theology in very important & unique ways. Even a cursory analysis of these titles teach us about the various aspects of union between God and man.

Mary’s primary title is that of Theotokos, it is generally translated “mother of God”, however, a more accurate translation would be “bearer of God.” As is obvious this title highlights just as much, if not more, about God than about Mary. The whole point of the title is the incarnation of God.

However, there is an addition benefit gained form the title Theotokos, the title also connects her faithfulness to our salvation, thus giving great value & importance to Mary for each and every Christian. For the Christian, Mary’s value consists of her unique co-operative work (energy) with the desires and work (energies) of the Trinity. By this faithfulness, she unlike Eve, (the mother of those who die) becomes the mother of the one who lives forever, & those who live forever in him. And this faithfulness consisted of freely choosing to gestate, bear, & raise, our Lord. The title Theotokos therefore connects humanity to God, first by highlighting the role of human faithfulness in the plan or redemption, and second by highlighting the role of the incarnation.

Perhaps, one of the main reasons that many contemporary Christians have such a truncated understanding of the doctrine of the incarnation and human works is due to their elimination of Mary & her titles from Christian doctrine. Properly recovering Mary, will be the task of this century for the post reformation west.

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