I love this feast day in part because of its history. When they were trying to decide whether to refer to Mary as the Mother of God or as the Mother of Jesus, it caused such controversy that, according to legend, some of the bishops at that ancient Council got into a physical fight! Wouldn’t that have been something to see? And, according to legend, one of those bishops was St. Nicholas.
What was at stake? Why is it important to call Mary the Mother of God, and not just the Mother of Jesus? We take it for granted. But in that day, there was a real question raised by someone who became a heretic regarding Jesus being just a man, as this heretic taught, or his being God and man.
At that time, it nearly destroyed the church, because so many people were willing to accept the idea that Jesus was not God. Part of the problem we are having now in Christianity is that there are people pushing the same idea. It seems like there are those who just cannot accept the idea that God would choose to come among us and live as a man.
That is why the church established this feast day. While it is a Marian feast day, it is really about who Jesus is. Some people do not like the idea of calling Mary the Mother of God, because they do not understand the implication of NOT using that title. Not using the title of Mary Mother of God calls into question whether Jesus is both God and man.
It really is amazingly simple for those of us who have known to call Mary the Mother of God. We grew up with this idea. But for those people who have not grown up with this, there is some confusion.
The other part of why I love this feast day is because it teaches us about the absolute marvel of a God who would choose to love us so much that he would set aside his divinity, as St. Paul says in his letter to the Philippians. So, it makes sense to have this feast day on the octave of Christmas. It is a solid affirmation of how wondrous our God is.
We need to thank those great saints of old who sought to understand the mystery of the Incarnation. We need to thank God that they stood firmly for this mystery of our faith. And we need to make sure we never forget the truth of what it means to call Mary this most exalted title: Mother of God.