We often think of Bethlehem when we think of Mary, the Mother of God — and rightfully so. This is the place where Mary gave birth to the Son of God. In my DVD Mary Mother of God I explain that Bethlehem means â€œhouse of breadâ€ and in the womb of Mary she carries the Bread of Life–the Bread come down from heaven. How appropriate that Mary goes to the House of Bread to deliver the Bread of Life.Â God became man, and Mary became the Mother of a divine Son.
(Picture is from a mural in Shepherd’s Field in Bethlehem.)
But two other cities stand out. First, Nazareth for it was here that the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. The Incarnation (enfleshment of God) didÂ not take place in Bethlehem — that is just where he was introduced to the world. The Incarnation began in Nazareth. It was in that obscure Galilean village that the first divine cells began to grow in Mary’s womb. Those cells were God in the flesh and they had Mary’s DNA. Mary’s DNA! She is the Mother of God.
But the third city so important to this feast day is the city of Ephesus. It was here that the doctrine was hammered out, defended and infallibly defined. The Council Fathers held the council in Ephesus to honor Mary’s stay there. The Church in Ephesus wasÂ named after her — The Church of the Virgin Mary. InÂ Mary, Mother of God I say: Â
â€œLeaving the holy city of Jerusalem behind, John brought Mary with him to this thriving metropolis.Â With a population of over a quarter of a million people, this was the fourth largest city in the Roman empire. The journey from Jerusalem to Ephesus would have taken Mary and the Apostle John about 800 miles through the rugged and mountainous terrain of Israel, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey.Â
â€œThe full divinity and humanity of the one person of Christ have been under fierce attack from the very beginning.Â It just boggles the human mind, the concept of God becoming man. Happily, Church Councils convened over the centuries to deal with these heresies and to define the truth. These are the ruins of the Church of the Virgin Mary, home of one of the most heated of those councils, the Third Ecumenical Council in Ephesus in 431.Â And this council infallibly defines Mary as the Theotokos, the Mother of God.â€œÂ
So, as we celebrate this wonderful feast day, we remember that the Marian doctrines are crucial to our faith. They are more about defining who Jesus is than defining who Mary is. The Marian doctrines are like the moat around a castle — there to help define and defend the doctrines of Christ. A Catholic says â€œMary is the Mother of Godâ€ to make two profound statemtents about her Son. First, he is 100% God, and second, he is 100% man. She gave birth to God to the Son, and the Son of God.
(Picture of me standing in the ruins of the Church of the Virgin Mary in ancient Ephesus.)
Info on the Church of the Virgin Mary in Ephesus: This is also called the Double Church since it is the length of two churches end to end and very skinny. In the Mary video we show the church from the ground and also from the air.
Here is what I found about the date of the church atÂ http://www.cankan.com/gizmir/23-districts_efes.htm:
The Double Churches : (Council Church) The Double Churches which is located across from the Byzantian Baths, has an extremely special importance for the Christian world. The Churches, in which councils gathered between 431 and 438, is a constructions with the dimensions 265×29.5 m. The church which was dedicated to Virgin Mary was turned into a basilika in the 2nd century A.D. during the Roman period. Catholicism was born here after the 3rd council meeting here. The church is important because it is one of the first seven Christian Churches in the world.