Fr. Bloomfield's Blog

I am a Roman Catholic Priest of the Archdiocese of Detroit, currently assigned to Divine Child Parish in Dearborn, Michigan. When I manage to keep the page updated, hopefully something interesting can be found here!

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Faith Seeking Understanding for January 1, 2006

Today the Church celebrates with great joy the Octave-day of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ with the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. We begin our new calendar year in the most fitting way by honoring the Blessed Virgin Mary under this ancient and revered title: Theotokos, the Mother of God. Without Mary’s cooperation with our heavenly Father’s plan, there would be no Incarnation. Without Mary’s “Yes,” we would not celebrate Christmas. Without Mary’s agreement to God’s invitation to be the mother of His Son, God would not share our nature, and we would not receive the promise of Salvation.

The Greek word Theotokos means literally “God-bearer,” although it is most often rendered in English by the phrase “Mother of God.” The Fathers of the Church venerated Mary with this title since the third century, although it was not until the Council of Ephesus in 431 – the third Ecumenical Council of the Church – that this dogma was formally declared. The Council of Ephesus declared Mary Theotokos in response to the heresy of Nestorius, who claimed that Mary was only the “Mother of Christ,” and not the Mother of God. Such a distinction attacked the unity of two natures in the one person of Christ, as well as the privileged role of Mary in the Incarnation.

This dogma of the Faith does not declare Mary to be the source of Christ’s divinity, as such; rather, she is the mother of Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity Who shares two natures: human and divine. These two natures are substantially united in the one Person of Mary’s Son. As the mother of the one Person who is both God and man, she is the mother of God. Simply put, if Mary is the mother of Jesus, and Jesus is God, then Mary is the Mother of God.

When the declaration was published after the first session of the Council, the people of Ephesus rejoiced publicly and led the Bishops of the Council through the streets with public praises in honor of the Mother of God. Such joyful acclamation bore eloquent witness to the truth of the Faith that had been held by the Church for centuries.

Why is such a doctrine so important, even today? Why did the Church Fathers (the great Bishops of the Church who taught and defended the Faith in the first six centuries after Christ) spend so much time and energy on what seems to be very simple? Knowing the truth about Jesus Christ is essential in knowing the truth Who is Jesus Christ. Jesus’ divine nature is truly, substantially, and forever united with His human nature. This truth transforms all of creation, because God has become one of us. Had the Son simply “appeared” as a man, or taken over a man’s soul, or anything else short of the mystical union by which His One Person has two natures – human and divine – we could not share in the hope of His victory over sin and death. We could not be saved.

Since 1967, January 1st has also been designated the “World Day for Peace.” By dedicating this year, 2006 A.D., to the Prince of Peace and to His Mother, the Queen of Peace, may we see His peace reign in our hearts and homes, our families and friends, our cities and our nation, and even in our entire world. May this year be for us one of renewed dedication to knowing Jesus Christ and His Mother in an ever deeper and more profound way. And may we not allow our “New Year’s Resolutions” to pass by as vague hopes for a “better” year. We are confident that He is faithful to His promises; let us be faithful to Him, in our daily prayer, in attending Sunday Mass, and by living the Gospel in its fullness. May God bless you richly and abundantly this New Year and always!