Mary, the Virgin Mother of God
Why do we call Mary, the Virgin Mother of God? WhyWhy do we pray to Maryhas the Church always insisted that Christians believe in Jesus “born of the Virgin Mary”?
The gospels of Matthew and Luke leave no room for doubt that Mary was a virgin at the time she conceived the Son of God. From the beginning of the Church, Mary’s name has almost always appeared with the modifier: “virgin.” In the Apostles’ Creed, in the Nicene Creed, in the early baptismal creeds of Rome and Africa, believers have consistently professed belief in Jesus “born of the Virgin Mary.” For the first Christians, to believe in Jesus was to believe in Mary’s virginity.
Indeed, Mary’s identity is incomplete without the word “virgin”. She is the “Virgin Mary.” Virginity is not merely a characteristic of her personality, or a description of her biological state. Virginity is so much a part of her that it has become like a name. When literature or songs refer to the “Virgin” or “the Blessed Mother”, it can only mean one person: Mary.
Source: “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn
Matthew 1:18, Luke 2:34-35 and 3:23
Mary as the Queen Mother
Throughout ancient history, the question always arose, whom should the people honor as queen? But most important, whose son should receive the right of succession to the throne? In most Near Eastern cultures, the twin problems were resolved by a single custom. The woman ordinarily honored as queen was not a wife of the king but the mother of the king. There was an element of justice to the practice since it was often persuasive power of the mother that won the throne for her son. As a wife of the former king and mother to the present king, the queen mother embodied the continuity of dynastic succession.
You may ask, how does this dynastic succession relate to Mary as the queen mother? Well, the monarchy of King David finds its perfect fulfillment in the reign of Jesus Christ, and there was never a Davidic king without a Davidic queen – the king’s own mother, the queen mother. Only with this Davidic key can we unlock the mysteries, for example, of the wedding feast of Cana. Mary counsels her son about the matter at hand, yet counsels others to obey Him and not her. Jesus then speaks to His mother as her superior; yet He defers to her suggestion – just as one might expect a Davidic king to grant a wish of his queen mother.
Sources: “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn
Facts of Mary’s Life the Bible Teaches
Do you know there are certain facts of Mary’s life that the Bible teaches – both implicit and explicit? Her virginal conception of Jesus, for example, is put forth clearly and unequivocally in Luke’s gospel (Luke1:34-35). Other facts are implicit in the biblical text but have always been taught by the Church, such as Mary’s assumption into heaven and her immaculate conception.
Though these details (assumptions) remain unspoken, they make up the fabric in which the narrative is woven. Without their tacit presence, the narrative disintegrates. Thus, the Church has carefully preserved, protected, and defended its Marian teachings because to give them up would be to give up the gospel. To suppress them would be to deprive God’s family of its mother. Without the dogmas, Mary becomes unreal: a random female body from Nazareth, insignificant in her individuality, incidental to the gospels’ narrative. When Mary becomes unreal, so does the incarnation of God, which depended upon Mary’s consent; so does the suffering flesh of Christ, which He took from His mother; so does the Christian’s status as a child of God, which depends upon our sharing in the household and family of Jesus, Son of David, the Son of Mary.
Sources: “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn Luke 1:34-35
Membership and Mothership
How does Mary relate to the Church? “She is the mother of the members of Christ having cooperated by charity that the faithful might be born in the Church, who are members of that Head”.
Mary, then, is a mother to the family of God. She is a model of that family, and she actively participates in the children’s “birth and education”. As a mother, she is a member of the family as, with the Father, she gives the family its particular identity.
The Church, too, is mother- but this is a function of its relation to Christ and Mary. The Church depends upon its intimate union with Mary, and the Church fulfills its own motherhood only insofar as it imitates and honors Mary’s virginal motherhood.
“The Church indeed, contemplating her hidden sanctity, imitating her charity and faithfully fulfilling the Father’s will, by receiving the word of God in faith becomes herself a mother”. The Church with Mary is also a Virgin, who protects the faith that has been given to her by Jesus, her spouse. “Imitating the mother of her Lord, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, (the Church) keeps with virginal purity, an entire faith, a firm hope, and a sincere charity”.
Sources: “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn “Lumen Gentium” 53,63, and 64 by St. Augustine
Daughter – Mother – Bride: Woman
At Cana, Jesus defers the miracle of changing water into wine to his mother, though she never commands him. She, in turn, merely tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you”.
But let us return for a moment to Jesus’ initial response. Did you notice how he addressed her? He called her not “Mother” or even “Mary” but “Woman”. Again, non-Catholic commentators will sometimes claim that Jesus intended the epithet “Woman” to convey disrespect or reproach. After all, shouldn’t he address her as “Mother”?
Let’s discuss a couple of points concerning his response. First, we should point out that since Jesus was obedient all his life to the law, it is unlikely that he would ever show dishonor to his mother, thereby violating the fourth commandment.
Second, Jesus, will again address Mary as “Woman” but in different circumstances. As he hangs dying on the cross, he will call her “Woman” when he gives her as mother to his beloved disciple, John. Surely, in that instance, he could mean no reproach or dishonor.
Sources: “Hail, Holy Queen” by Scott Hahn John 2:5 and John 19:26