The Mother of the Redeemer and of All Men

The Church calls Mary Mother of the Savior as well as Mother of God. In the Litany of Loreto, for example, after the invocations, “Holy Mother of God,” and “Mother of the Creator,” we find the other, “Mother of the Savior, pray for us.” Though some have thought the contrary, (1) the fact of these two titles is no reason for believing that Mariology labors under the defect of a duality of distinct principles: “Mother of God” and “Mother of the Savior, who is associated with His redemptive work.” Mariology is a unity, for Mary is “Mother of God the Redeemer or the Savior.” In much the same way the two mysteries of the Incarnation and the Redemption do not take away from the unity of Christology, for its central point is the redemptive Incarnation. The motive of the Incarnation is sufficiently indicated in the Creed which says that the Son of God came down from heaven for our salvation.

Let us now see how Mary became Mother of the Savior by her consent, and how, as Mother of the Savior, she was to be associated with His redemptive work.

Mary Became Mother of the Savior by Her Consent

Mary gave her consent to the redemptive Incarnation when, on the day of the Annunciation, the angel said to her: “Thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and shalt bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus”—the name to be given to her Son meaning “Savior.” Mary was not ignorant of the Messianic prophecies—most particularly those of Isaiah—which foretold the redemptive sufferings of the promised Savior. Thus, when she uttered her fiat she accepted in advance for herself and for her Son all the sufferings which the redemption would involve.

She learned something still more explicit about them a few days later when Simeon spoke to her: “Behold this child is set for the fall, and for the resurrection of many in Israel, and for a sign which shall be contradicted; And thy own soul a sword shall pierce.” A little earlier he had spoken of Jesus as “…thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples.” Mary, we are told, kept all these words in her heart. The divine plan became gradually clearer to her contemplative faith, lit up as it was by the illumination of the gift of understanding.

Mary therefore became freely Mother of the Redeemer in His role of Redeemer; she grew in her appreciation of the fact that the Son of God became Man for our salvation. She united herself to Jesus as only a mother, and a very holy mother, could in perfect oneness of love for God and souls. That was her way of fulfilling the great precept of the law—and what more perfect way could there be? Tradition is clear on Mary’s union with the Redeemer; it never tires of repeating that as Eve was united to the first man in the work of perdition Mary was united to the Redeemer in the work of redemption.

Mother of the Redeemer, she grew too in her appreciation of the manner of our redemption. It was sufficient for her to call to mind and meditate on the prophecies which all knew so well. Isaiah (53:1-12) announced the sufferings and humiliations of the Messiah, saying that they would be borne to expiate our sins by Him Who is innocence itself, and that by His Death He would justify many. She knew too David’s psalm (Ps. 22) “O God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” describing the prayer of the Just One, His cry of anguish in His abandonment, and His confidence in Jahve, His apostolate and its effects in Israel and among the gentiles. There was finally Daniel’s prophecy of the Son of Man (Dan. 7:13-14) and of the power that would be given Him: “And he gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom: and all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him: his power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away: and his kingdom, that shall not be destroyed.” All Tradition has seen the Messiah promised as Redeemer in the Man of Sorrows of Isaiah and the Son of Man of Daniel.

Mary, who was not ignorant of these prophecies, became therefore Mother of the Redeemer in His role of Redeemer at the Annunciation. From her consent “Be it done to me according to thy word” follows all the rest of her life, just as all Jesus’ life followed from the consent He gave to His Father’s will on entering the world: “Holocausts for sin did not please thee. Then said I: Behold I come to do thy will, O God” (Hebr. 10:6, 9). The Fathers could say that our salvation depended on Mary’s consent, and that she conceived her Son spiritually before she conceived Him corporeally. (2)