The Holy Virgin Mary in the Syrian Orthodox Church - Part VIII
His Holiness Moran Mor Ignatius Zakka I Iwas
The Mother of God (Theotokos)
The Holy Church called the Holy Virgin Mary "The Mother of God" as stated before, because she gave birth to the Lord in the flesh. However, in the fifth century, Nestorius, the patriarch of Constantinople, denounced this appellation given to the Virgin. He was declared anathema in the third ecumenical council convened in Ephesus 431 in the presence of 200 bishops, who declared that Jesus had one hypostasis, one nature after the union without confusion, without commixtion, without division. They also put down the introduction to the creed, which confirmed that the Holy Virgin Mary was the Mother of God stating:
"We venerate you, oh, Mother of true light and glorify you, oh, Holy Virgin, Mother of God, because you gave birth to the Savior of the whole universe".
No wonder that the title " The Mother of God" summarizes the magnanimous doctrine of Incarnation. This title has been used by the Holy Church ever since the early ages of Christianity and was mentioned in the writings of early fathers. It was approved and confirmed by the council of Ephesus in 431. St. Cyril the Great said:
"This is the teaching carefully instituted by Orthodoxy everywhere. Our holy fathers adhered to it. They were so confident about giving this title, (the Mother of God) (Theotokos) to the Holy Virgin Mary not because the nature of the word (the physis), or divinity, was first derived from the Holy Virgin, but because His Holy body with rational soul was born of her and His flesh was united with the prosopon of God, the Word, and for this reason it was said that he was born of her in the flesh".
The title (Theotokos), the Mother of God, given to the virgin is not meant for honoring the virgin, but for instituting a theological doctrine confirming that Jesus, who was born of the Virgin, made His Humanity one with His divinity- one physis, one hypostasis, one prosopon. We are entitled, therefore, to call the Virgin, (the Mother of God), because she gave birth to the flesh and because this flesh has a rational soul and is united in His Divinity by one Nature, one Hypostasis and one Prosopon. Mary is called the Mother of God in the same way any woman is called the mother of someone composed of body and soul- which are created by God and not given birth by that woman. We call her, however, the mother of this person because his soul and body are united in one nature and one person, hence she is called his mother. The Virgin Mary is, likewise, called.
The prayer said on Wednesday morning reads:
"Let everyone, who does not believe that Mary gave birth to God, be anathema. And everyone who does not confess that the one born is God and the Son of God shall be deemed as Godless and a blasphemer."
He was eternally born of the Father and shone forth of Mary at the end of ages. He, who was born of the Father and of Mary, is one and the same, to whom glorification and adoration be due. Let whoever contends otherwise, and tries to fathom his mystery be anathema". St. Gregory of Nazianzus (329-389+) said: "Whoever does not believe that Holy Mary is the Mother of God (Theotokos) shall be a stranger in God's eyes".
To be continued....