Was Mary the Mother of God?

Question:

Instead of saying that Jesus “was born of the Virgin Mary”, the New Roman Missal has us saying he “was incarnate of the Virgin Mary.” Why?

Answer:

Mary Mother of God

To say, “Jesus was born of Mary” sounds like she gave birth to God. The original creed in Latin emphasized her participation in providing flesh (a human body) for Jesus, i.e., the “incarnation” of Jesus. BUT — Among the most controversial and misunderstood arguments over the years goes back to a very early Council of the Church, in which Mary is defined as the “theotokos” or Mother of God. Irenaeus wrote: “The Virgin Mary, being obedient to his word, received from an angel the glad tidings that she would bear God” (Against Heresies, 5:19:1 [A.D. 189]).

The incarnation means that Jesus was born of Mary, doesn’t it? No. And this is a good example of why many people are having a hard time accepting changes in the Missal. They want to know: Why is it even necessary to change the words? We all need to become more aware of words, paying attention to semantics and the true meaning of words, rather than remain on automatic pilot, so to speak, making assumptions about meanings based on how one has used the words in the past. That’s one of the main reasons why Church authorities decided to change the Missal. An example would be how we so readily say “I love pizza” when in fact what is meant is “I enjoy eating pizza”; one cannot “love” an inanimate object, because love is an act of doing good for and caring about someone.

To “bear” God and to “give birth” to God have two different meanings or intentions. We all bear God within us, since our baptisms. To “bear” means to “carry”. For example, “I am bearing a heavy load.” To “give birth” to God means that God did not exist until conceived in and produced from Mary’s womb.

Mary is the “Mother of God” only by the fact that she carried or “bore” Jesus the Son in her womb and mothered him throughout his childhood years. She did not carry God the Father or God the Holy Spirit in her womb, although her womb did hold Christ’s unity with the Father and the Spirit. And she certainly did not precede God, not even God the Son Jesus.

Semantically-speaking, for Jesus to be “born” of the Virgin Mary means he did not exist until conceived in her womb.

Because we’ve not been careful with our semantics, we the Church have caused some confusion about our beliefs. It has led Protestants to think that Catholics believe that Mary preceded God. And even within our own Church, it’s hard for those who have not been well formed in the Faith to think of Jesus as existing before he was conceived in Mary’s womb. Did you know that the Old Testament has stories of the pre-incarnated Jesus?

© 2011 by Terry A. Modica


Please share this with others by using the social sharing icons at the top of this page. Or request a printable copy that's licensed for distribution here, if it is not indicated next to the copyright notice that it is already available from Catholic Digital Resources.
Copyrighted by Good News Ministries. Printed for single-user, personal use only. To distribute this, permission is required. Printed from: http://wordbytes.gnm.org/faqs-Mary-mother-of-God/
Liked it? Subscribe to more Good News at gogoodnews.net!
Choose one of the editions of the Good News Reflections, and as a thank-you for subscribing, we will also send you a free download of my mini-ebook "10 Prayers That Changed My Life".

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated before appearing on this page.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via email. (You may alternatively subscribe without commenting.)

Send donations to:
Good News Ministries
5474 Willams Road, Suite 2B
Tampa, Florida 33610 USA

GNM logo donated  by
Brent Delperdang of
Web Talent Marketing

Website content © 1996 - 2017
Most photos © Terry Modica. All rights reserved.
See our Copyrights Page for permission.

Good News Ministries gnm.org

Looking for
Charlie Osborn's
Good News of Divine Mercy?

This is NOT it! Here's his info.

Contact Us

Privacy Policy

Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay is a Catholic adult faith formation and evangelization ministry in the Diocese of St. Petersburg. We offer events such as seminars, retreats, courses, and parish missions. Our speakers for Catholic adult education specialize in teaching the Church documents, Bible study, the Vocation of Marriage, and prayer. Our services include daily Good News Reflections on the readings from Catholic Mass, WordBytes e-magazine, Virtual Pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Online Rosaries, and much more. As a non-profit charitable organization, GNM charges no fees but accepts donations to continue ministering. Catholic Digital Resources is Terry Modica's writing services company. Good News Ministries of Tampa Bay, Inc., is an equal opportunity agency; we never practice discrimination based upon age, ethnicity, gender, national origin, disability, race, size, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic background, other than as allowed by law.