This Mother’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on the greatest Mom of all. There is a mother more significant than any other but lots of Christians (I’m looking at you, Protestants!) tend to avoid meditating on her. Certainly this is because of fear of falling into Roman Catholic excesses. Karl Barth called the veneration of Mary the ‘cancer of Catholicism’. But even if he was right, that doesn’t mean we should be shy to dwell upon her greatness in more appropriate ways. Why is she so important? Why is should she be such a big deal? I recently heard J I Packer being asked in a lecture why Mary has figured so largely in the historical Christian imagination. He curtailed his usual long-winded tendencies and answered, simply, “well, she’s His Mum!” Made sense to me. I make a big deal out of my Mom, why shouldn’t God make a big deal out of His?
Everybody’s got a Mum, even God. To say Mary is the Mother of God – her proper title – is no mistake. In fact, Mother of God is a title that really is more about Him than her. Jesus of Nazareth is the Lord. Christians have always believed that He was/is both fully human and was/is fully God. There is no separating His God-ness (divinity) from His Man-ness (humanity). That wondrous mystery has the real implication that there is no point at which Jesus began to be God. There is no point at which He attained Godhood – He was/is God and Man from the moment of His conception. To say Mary is Mother of God is really to affirm and celebrate the divine majesty of that baby – fetus – embryo – zygote. The Divine Word has taken on flesh. He was born the same way we all are. And He had a Mom.
Theology from a 3 year old. Being a Dad to an inquisitive 3 year old is more theologically challenging than anything else. Mary, the Mother of God, is a hero of unique significance to my little daughter. Certainly it is because she’s a girl and loves to pretend to give birth. She loves the story of Christ’s birth, where Mary of course figures large. I actually was forced to reflect upon Mary as “Mother of God” because of Nora. After all, if you talking Bible stories, and you don’t say ‘Mary, Mother of God’ a three-year-old might get her confused with Mary Magdalene. We have to keep our Marys straight! Of course she was there when He was born – she’s the hero of that story. But lately, Nora has been asking me to read her of His death and her first question about the crucifixion is usually ‘where was His mom?” Turns out, she was there!
A Mother Worthy of the Highest Honour. Mary does not have too much to say throughout the entire Bible. Even though she prays one of the most magnificent prayers…ever!, her lines are few. Peter, Paul, James, John… these guys are easy to pay homage to. They wrote, preached, did lots of stuff. But Mary is different. She is not great for what she said or even did. She is great because of what she is – His Mom. She received, by no accomplishment of her own, the greatest of all graces. She received the honour of bearing God Himself into this world. She bore Him, nursed Him, loved Him, believed in Him, and had her heart torn open when He suffered for all our sakes. She believed God when He spoke by the angel and gave the biggest “yes!” to God in the history of the world. Hers was the simplest of faith, her willingness to obey matchable perhaps only by Christ’s own obedience. The greatest woman who ever lived, and the greatest mother that ever was.
Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. Luke 1:28 KJV