Here we again have words that roll off our tongues so easily that we may seldom, or never, contemplate the full depth of their meaning. Holy Mary… what does it mean to be holy? Online resources will give synonyms like saintly, godly, pious, devout, or refer to qualities like spiritual purity, inspiring fear, awe. These all apply to Mary but a better definition comes from my lexicon (more in-depth than a dictionary and hard to find now) published in 1973 (before political correctness was invented). Here it says that holy means, belonging to God; set apart for God’s service. Now there’s a definition that perfectly fits Mary because Mary, in her sinlessness, perfectly fits the definition!
As I said at the start, we seldom, if ever, contemplate Mary’s holiness; maybe it’s because the word has so many applications, like, Holy Mass, Holy Orders, or Holy Communion. We also can refer to someone as a holy man or holy woman. Each of us is created by God, for God; we belong to Him. Each of us is called to holiness – to freely choose, by grace, God’s way – not my way.
Mary’s holiness comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, full of grace, and from her freely chosen decision to follow God’s Will. Watch her closely in the gospels and notice her holiness.
The title, Mother of God, refers to a mystery that has been problematic from the early days of the Church. The Greek word for this mystery is, Theotokos – Theo, for God and tokos for bearer. She is the God-bearer, the one who brings the God-man, Jesus Christ, into the world. How can Mary, created by God, be His mother? The answer lies in the mystery of the Incarnation.
When Mary freely gave her permission at the Annunciation, the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was conceived in her womb. He who is Divine takes on our human nature through Mary and from Mary but to speak of Mary as the mother of the human Christ alone is to divide Him into two persons: one human, one divine. He is indivisible. He is one person. He is human and divine.
Here is where the Church Fathers give us another Greek word to describe the mystery: hypostasis – hypo, meaning under, and stasis, meaning state, essence, nature. The underlying essence of Christ is twofold, human and divine, but He is one person. Today we refer to this as the Hypostatic Union. The underlying natures of Divinity and Humanity are united, without being separable, in the one Person who is Jesus Christ and it is by that mystery which we can, without heresy, call Mary, Mother of God.
Once again, it’s all about God!