Mary is the Mother of Jesus, we are His brothers and sisters, so Mary is our Mother as well. Though she did not physically give birth to us, she gave Jesus the Sacred Body of which we have become members (Ephesians 5:29). We are all united to the very same Flesh which Jesus drew from the Virgin, so she is, in a very real sense, our Mother in the order of the Redemption.
How This Teaching Exalts Christ
It reaffirms the true humanity of Jesus, as well as the fact that we are "one body" with Him.
This teaching is rooted in the New Eve concept (see the first article for the biblical basis of the New Eve). The first Eve was the "mother of the living" (Genesis 3:21); the physical genetrix of all humanity. Even so, the New Eve is the Mother of all redeemed humanity. Mary is the true "Mother of the living", the Mother of all who possess eternal life in Christ, her Son.
We also find biblical basis for this belief in John 19:25-27:
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.Mary was not St. John's physical mother, yet the dying Lord tells him "Behold your Mother". St. John represents all Christians here; Jesus is giving the "Woman" - the New Eve - to all Christians as their spiritual Mother.
Early Christian Witness
In the second century, St. Irenaeus writes:
"The Word will become flesh, and the Son of God the son of man _ the Pure One opening purely that pure womb, which generates men unto God." (Against Heresies, 1.509; 189 AD)Mary's womb, the same pure womb which bore Jesus, also "generates men unto God"! Second century Christians clearly recognized that Mary is the spiritual Mother of all who are in Christ. In the third century A.D., the Christian writer Origen indicated that John 19:25-27 relates to Mary's spiritual Motherhood:
"No one can apprehend the meaning of it (John's Gospel) except he have lain on Jesus' breast and received from Jesus Mary to be his mother also....For if Mary, as those declare who with sound mind extol her, had no other son but Jesus, and yet Jesus says to His mother "Woman, behold thy son" and not "Behold you have this son also", then He virtually said to her "Lo, this is Jesus, whom thou dost bear". Is it not the case that every one who is perfect lives himself no longer, but Christ lives in him, if Christ lives in him, then it is said of him to Mary "Behold thy son Christ". (Origen, Commentary on John, Bk 1, ch.6)Note Origen's allusion to Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me". Christans share in the very life of Jesus, the Son of Mary! Saint Augustine writes at the beginning of the fifth century:
"But plainly (Mary) is, in spirit, Mother of us who are His members, because by love she has cooperated so that the faithful, who are the members of that Head might be born in the Church. In body, indeed, she is mother of that very Head." (Augustine, On Holy Virginity, 6,6,)If all the baptized have "put on Christ" (Gal 3:27), are members of His Body (Ephesians 5:29-31) and if they no longer live, but Christ lives in them, then Christ's Mother becomes their Mother as well?
This smacks of Gnosticism, an early heresy which denied the Incarnation and hoped for a purely spiritual salvation. The Bible, on the other hand, clearly teaches that our salvation is both physical and spiritual by virtue of Jesus' Incarnation.
Human beings are both physical and spiritual, a body and a soul. Our Lord assumed our human nature - both a human body and a human soul - in order to save us. The Incarnation actually made the Atonement possible; Jesus' physical Blood has redeemed us (Eph 1:7, Col 1:14, Heb 9:12, 1 Pet 1:2, 1 Jn 1:7, Rev 5:9), His bodily wounds and sufferings have redeemed us: "By his bruises we are healed" (Is 53:5).
Jesus actually saves us by uniting us to His own Humanity! Thus the Bible says that the redeemed are members of His Body (Ephesians 5:29-32), and that our bodies are members of Christ (I Corinthians 6:15). We are truly united to Jesus' glorified human Body, which is the same exact Body which He drew from Mary, and in which He suffered and died (as He proved by the scars in his hands, feet and side: Luke 24:39-40; John 20:20, 27).
We even bear His resurrection life within our very bodies until the Last Day, when Jesus will finally redeem and glorify our bodies (John 6:54; Rom 8:23 Phil 3:21). Our Redemption is not a purely "spiritual" reality; it most definitely has a physical aspect as well.
The Incarnation is inseparable from the Redemption. We receive life from Christ through His Sacred Humanity, which He received from Mary! So Jesus' Mother is our Mother as well, for He drew from her the same flesh to which we are united in the Body of Christ.
Do you have the same trouble understanding how God could be your Father? I'm sure you know that the Bible says that Jesus is our Brother (Hebrews 2:11), which makes God our Father (Galatians 4:5-6). Well, if Jesus is our Brother and His Father is our Father, then surely His Mother is our Mother as well. Brothers have the same father and mother (unless they are half-brothers, but the Bible never calls us Jesus' half-brothers).
Had Jesus not become Incarnate, we could never have become His brothers and sisters, since we become such by our union with His human nature. But in His Incarnation, Jesus has a Mother, Mary. So Mary must be our Mother too.
That argument has one big problem: the word "care" in John 19:27 was added in by translators; it does not appear in the original text! The original Greek reads "eis ta idia". "Eis" means "for" or "as"; "ta idia" means "one's own, my own, your own, his own, her own, our own, or their own", depending on the context (this context clearly indicates "his own", meaning "John's own").
So this verse literally says that John took Mary "for his own" or "as his own". This is what Jesus wants us to do as well; not to take Mary "into our care" but to take her "for our own"; to accept her as our Mother in Christ. She is His gift to us, how can we spurn His gift?
The apostle John - one of the very earliest Christians - considered her his Mother (John 19:26-27). We know that Mary lived among the first Christians for some time after Jesus' death. Surely those early converts would have loved the woman who was the Mother of their Savior. And given their tendancy to look upon one another as family (Romans 16:13), they may well have considered Mary their spiritual Mother
Jesus taught that we will have many mothers in the kingdom of God (Mark 10:29-30) and St. Paul counseled Christians to treat all older women in the Church as mothers (I Timothy 5:2). Some Evangelicals look upon a saintly older woman in their congregation as a spiritual mother-figure. Is it so hard to believe that the first Christians might have looked on the Mother of their Lord in the same manner?
No, for we know that our Heavenly Father is the Eternal, Infinite Creator and that our Heavenly Mother is one of His creatures.
Yes, the Church gives birth to us in Baptism and nourishes us in the Sacraments, so she is indeed our spiritual Mother. Catholics traditionally call her "Holy Mother Church". But the Church is a corporate entity, not a human person, and we are used to mothers who are individuals, with whom we have a personal relationship. We obviously cannot have such a relationship with Mother Church, yet we can with the Virgin Mary. She is the Image, Model and pre-eminent member of the Church, so she puts a "human face" on the Church's Motherhood.
Whether you know it or not, you do need Mary. God has placed in every human heart the need for a mother's love. The Church, great as she is, cannot completely fill this need, but Mary can. That is why God gives her to you as your Mother.
You seem to believe that you must choose between the two, as if having Mary as Mother and having the Church as Mother are mutually exclusive. In reality, you can have both. God is not asking you to choose between them. We Catholics recognize both Mary and the Church as Mother, and so can you.
Jesus said that we could have hundreds of them (Mark 10:30). Why settle for just one?
Well I don't know about you, but as far as I'm concerned, if she's good enough for Jesus she's good enough for me!
Jesus created a beautiful, holy woman to be His Mother. Rather than keep her all to Himself He gives her to us as well to be our Mother in heaven. This is consistent with His infinite generosity; He gave His life for us, shed His Blood, gives us salvation, righteousness, eternal life and a share in the divine nature (II Peter 1:4), and, as if all that weren't enough, He even gives us His own Mother, so that we may know the mother-love He put in her heart. How can we spurn this precious gift of Our Lord?
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