The Mother of God
We come to some very important words of the Creed, namely that our Blessed Lord was born of the Virgin Mary. We will give some evidence for this and we will discuss how it was necessary in the plan of the world’s redemption.
In order to understand the proof of Mary’s virginity we must understand that the gospels did not precede the church. Rather it was the church that preceded the gospels recorded from the tradition of the early Christians. They already accepted the miracles of the loafs and fishes, the resurrection of Christ and of course the virgin birth of Mary.
The one man that would have doubted the virgin birth of Mary was Luke. He was a physician. Yet it is the medical doctor that sets down the teaching that there was a virgin birth. There is also another concern, did Mary remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus. The gospels record that Jesus had brothers and in particular James. If Jesus had brothers and sisters then Mary was not always a virgin. During Mass I say pray brethren that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to Almighty God. Of course you understand that you are my brethren in a pejorative sense because we did not all have the same mother. However some will say that “brothers” referring to Jesus in the gospel was of blood. This is true but it also means that cousins are of blood too. In the book of Genesis Abraham calls Lot his brother. Lot was not a brother of Abraham but was a nephew. In particular when we come to James the brother of Jesus we know that he is the son of another Mary, the sister of Mary the mother of our Lord and the wife of Cleophas. St. Paul says he did not see any of the other apostles except James the brother of Jesus. But this James was the son of another father namely, Alphaeus. That is recorded in Matthew Mark and Luke. Nowhere in the scripture are the brothers of Jesus named as the sons and daughters of Mary and Joseph.
Now we come to other proofs for the virgin birth from the Gospel of St. John and the writing of St. Paul. St. John assumes the virgin birth. Throughout the gospel of John there is the discussion of a double birth. We are first of all born of our parents then we are born of God with the waters of the Holy Spirit in our baptism. That is what our Lord meant when he was discussing being born again with Nicodemus. When St. John speaks our birth with God he practically assumes the virgin birth. Because he said John says in his first chapter that he gave us power to be the sons of God. He tells us that this happens through a birth but immediately tells us that this is not a human birth. He goes on to enumerate that the birth is neither of blood nor of sex nor of the human will but solely by the power of God. This saying by John assumes a common understanding of the virgin birth. What is Blood what is sex what is the human will?
All of these elements are eliminated in the story of the birth of Jesus. Mary tells Gabriel that she does not know a man. God says that the power of the Holy Spirit will overshadow her. Christians could not understand the spiritual birth unless they understood the virgin birth. Therefore it already happened. By the time the Gospel of John was written which was by the way the last gospel to be written no one was amazed that John spoke of a birth without sex. People already knew by this time that the whole Christian world came into being through a virgin birth. The virgin birth is God’s idea not man’s.
St. Paul also assumes the virgin birth. The epistles were written in Greek. When St. Paul speaks of the birth of our Blessed Lord he uses a specific Greek term in Galatians,” Then God sent out his son on a mission to us—He took birth from a woman” to make us sons by adoption. St. Paul never uses the ordinary word for a human birth which is the conjunction of a man and a woman is the common word in Greek “Gennao” that means a birth like you and I have. St. Paul uses “ginomai” for the birth of our Lord, to come into existence or to become. In Gal.. 4:23, 24 and 29 to be born St. Paul uses the term “gennao” referring to the birth of Ismael and the birth of Jacob. But when he comes to the birth of our Lord he refuses to use that word. He uses another word “ginomai” because the birth of our Lord comes from a virgin. Our Lord was born into the Human race but was not born of it.
If God created Adam without the seed of a man why would we shrink that God would form the new Adam without the seed of a Man. We also find a proto-evangelical verse in the Book of Genesis alluding to the virgin birth. In Genesis 3:15 God curses the serpent and say to it that a woman’s seed will be in enmity with the devil’s seed. Now a woman does not have a seed but males do.
So what is so important about a virgin birth? The reason we believe in a virgin birth is because God wanted someone very good and pure to bring him into this world. How could our Lord be born sinless if he was born of a sin laid humanity? When a ship travels in muddy water dirty and foul to then travel in pure fresh water where the water is crystal clear there has to be some kind of lock between the two bodies of water, so that the ship does not bring the foul into the pure waters of the new lake body. So Mary was born without sin serves as that lock between sinful humanity and sinless humanity. How could God become man and yet be sinless so that he could take on our sins. Our Blessed Lord had to be a perfect man but not a sinful man. He had to be outside of that terrible current of sin that has passed on and infected all humanity. Our Lord had to be sinless so he too would not need redemption. Now that lock that lifted our Blessed Lord out of that sinful current of humanity and made him the sinless man the new head of the human race was the virgin birth!
So how is a virgin birth applicable to any of us? The better question is what does it mean for you or I to be full of grace as the angel Gabrielle announces to Mary? How are we that lock for another to pass through from foul waters to pure? What does it mean for you and I to take on any of the titles that are applicable to Mary, Holy Tabernacle of Christ, Mother of Good Counsel, Vessel of Honor, Health of the sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, Mirror of Justice, Tower of David, Mother most pure….When we too become full of grace consider how our lives in the home, church and work will fill others with the light of Christ and God’s grace. We were made in the image of God and Mary shows us how to be a life totally surrendered to God.
That’s why we love Mary so much—Hail Mary full of grace!