"What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ." (CCC 487)
To most Catholics, this statement seems pretty clear. Some may have heard this logic statement: If Jesus is God, and Mary is the mother of Jesus, then Mary is the Mother of God. Everything we believe about St. Mary comes directly from what we believe about Our Lord Jesus. Since we believe Jesus Christ to be God Incarnate, it is right to call His mother, Mother of God. Either He is God or He isn't. Today we celebrate the fact that Jesus was "Incarnate of the Virgin Mary and became man." (Nicene Creed)
Today's readings are: Numbers 6:22-27; Psalm 67:2-3,5,6,8; and Galatians 4:4-7.
Today's Gospel is from Luke 2: 16-21:
The shepherds went in haste to Bethlehem and found Mary and Joseph,
and the infant lying in the manger.
When they saw this,
they made known the message
that had been told them about this Child.
All who heard it were amazed
by what had been told them by the shepherds.
And Mary kept all these things,
reflecting on them in her heart.
reflecting on them in her heart.
Then the shepherds returned,
glorifying and praising God
for all they had heard and seen,
just as it had been told to them.
When eight days were completed for His circumcision,
He was named Jesus, the name given Him by the angel
before He was conceived in the womb.
One thing that many of the first "reformers" did agree on with the Catholic Church was honoring Mary. These beliefs were later dropped by most of their followers.
"She is rightly called not only the mother of the man, but also the Mother of God ... It is certain that Mary is the Mother of the real and true God." --Martin Luther
"Elizabeth called Mary Mother of the Lord, because the unity of the person in the two natures of Christ was such that she could have said that the mortal man engendered in the womb of Mary was at the same time the eternal God." --John Calvin
"I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary." --Ulrich Zwingli
There is quite a lot of evidence that the early Church called St. Mary the Mother of God and honored her as such. Below is just a small sampling.
"After this, we receive the doctrine of the resurrection from the dead, of which Jesus Christ our Lord became the first-fruits; Who bore a Body, in truth, not in semblance, derived from Mary the mother of God in the fullness of time sojourning among the race, for the remission of sins: who was crucified and died, yet for all this suffered no diminution of His Godhead."
--Alexander of Alexandria, Epistle to Alexander, 12 (A.D. 324).
"Many, my beloved, are the true testimonies concerning Christ. The Father bears witness from heaven of His Son: the Holy Ghost bears witness, descending bodily in likeness of a dove: the Archangel Gabriel bears witness, bringing good tidings to Mary: the Virgin Mother of God bears witness: the blessed place of the manger bears witness."
--Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures, X:19 (c. A.D. 350).
"And the Angel on his appearance, himself confesses that he has been sent by his Lord; as Gabriel confessed in the case of Zacharias, and also in the case of Mary, bearer of God."
--Athanasius, Orations III, 14 (A.D. 362).
"To the question: 'Is Mary the bearer of Man, or the bearer of God?' we must answer: 'Of Both.'"
--Theodore of Mopsuestia, The Incarnation, 15 (ante A.D. 428).
Today we honor Mary, the Mother of God. I close with one last quote:
"Whoever honors the Lord also honors the holy [vessel]; who instead dishonors the holy vessel also dishonors his Master. Mary herself is that holy Virgin, that is, the holy vessel"
--Epiphanius, Panarion, 78:21 (A.D. 377).