“The Annunciation” by Eustache Le Sueur (1650)

Let us celebrate the motherhood of the Virgin Mary, and let us worship her Son, Christ the Lord. Today we are urged to consider the fact that the Virgin Mary carried within her womb the Lord, the Creator of the world, and gave birth to him in Bethlehem. She was the tender mother who made a home for her Son, who is our Lord and Saviour. This is a great mystery indeed!

Scripture tells us that Mary’s Son, Jesus, originated within her and from her. God the Son became man by taking on human flesh within his human mother (Jn 1:14). She gave birth to him and raised him as her own Son, and he was obedient to her and St Joseph (Lk 2:51). Mary, then, was a true mother. Since her Son, Jesus, is God the Son, we call Mary, the Mother of God—a mother is always the mother of a person, not merely a human nature. This is why the Church at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD declared Mary the Theotokos, literally God-bearer or Mother of God.

Mary’s divine motherhood reveals to us the immense dignity to which God has raised not only Mary herself, but also every human being and especially human motherhood. We see in Mary’s divine motherhood that God considers human flesh and family life to be good. God called Mary to participate in his plan of salvation of the human race from sin and death. When the archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would conceive and bear a Son, and this Son would assume the throne of David and would be called the Son of the Most High God (Lk 1:31-32), all creation waited for Mary’s response. Mary asked how this would occur for she was a virgin (“How shall this be, since I have no husband?” [Lk 1:34]), the angel explained that “for with God nothing will be impossible” (Lk 1:37). This was sufficient for Mary to respond in her immense humility and desire to participate in God’s plan of salvation: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).

There are two things worth considering here: God’s power to bring about wonderful things, and Mary’s profound humility and obedience to God’s word. First, the archangel teaches us that God can do all things. God’s power is so immense that he can even bring forth a child from the womb of Mary, which was closed due to her not “knowing man.” The power of God is revealed in God’s amazing act of condescending love: God does not come here with great pomp and in his awesome majesty. Rather, he assumes the form of a little helpless baby in the womb of his mother Mary. The enormity of God’s power is revealed in this humble scene. God’s power is great, and he always uses it to bring about good.

Second, Mary’s response to God’s plan was humble obedience to the divine Word, uttered through the archangel. Indeed, she asked for further details about how this would occur, but never did she doubt God’s word. The prospect of becoming an unwed mother – Mary was only betrothed to Joseph at this time – would have been daunting in her Jewish culture in which a betrothed virgin who engaged in sexual intercourse with another man was subject to death by stoning (Deut 22:23-24). There was every chance that Mary could be accused of this by those unaware of her miraculous conception of Jesus. Despite this risk, Mary humbly obeyed the word spoken by the angel, ever trusting in God’s power to accomplish all things.

This scene of the beginning of Mary’s divine maternity is incomplete without considering her role at the foot of the Cross. Mary participated in her Son’s work of salvation, not merely by giving birth to him, but also in raising him, and in uniting her sufferings to his, and never opposing his mission. Mary’s divine motherhood was expanded at the foot of the Cross, when Jesus gave the “beloved disciple” to her to be her own son (Jn 19:26-27). The beloved disciple is representative of any true believer in Jesus Christ. As Jesus’ disciples, we are all Mary’s spiritual children. She continues to nurture us on our journey of faith so that we may come to the perfection of the Christian life in the glory of heaven. Let us, then, make this our constant prayer: “Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.”

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