In his commentary on the Magnificat, Martin Luther wrote:
"Men have crowded all her glory into a single phrase, 'the Mother of God'. No one can say anything greater of her or to her, though he had as many tongues as there are leaves on the trees . . ."
To many Christians the role of Mary as Mother of God and also their Mother finds no support in the New Testament. But Martin Luther from his study of the scriptures could write in 1529:
"Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of us all.
If Christ be ours . . . all that he has must be ours,
and His Mother also must be ours."
The simple gospel fact is that Jesus had a mother and that that mother had a mission in the plan of Salvation. In our human history there would have been no Fatherhood of God without the Motherhood of Mary, for God became man in the normal way of men through a mother. Had He been only a man who lived and died and was forgotten then she too could be ignored and forgotten.
But the Jesus who was born of Mary expanded into mankind, making Mary the mother of mankind. Jesus is Christianity - Mary, the mother of Christianity.
Anyone who honestly considers this basic Christian truth can never say Mary is irrelevant, for nothing that mattered to Jesus can be irrelevant.
And Mary mattered to Jesus. The person who sets his life on being one with Jesus, of following His teaching and imitating Him oftentimes overlooks the very first act of Jesus in the plan of Redemption: He first gave Himself to Mary.
And in the end, from the cross, He gave her to us.
The great goal of the Christian is to be identified with Jesus, to be one with Him. In this sense Mary was the first Christian and her purpose, now, is to bring that same Jesus to His fullness as He lives on in us. "For we," says St. Paul, "are the Body of Christ."
The role of Mary as Mother of God is in fact found in the Bible. In Luke 1:41-45 we find the following:
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
In John 19:26-27 we read that Jesus gave Mary to us (represented by John the Beloved Apostle) as our mother also:
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.
Contrary to an often-heard criticism of the Catholic Church based on a lack of understanding, Catholics do not worship Mary; we worship God alone! Veneration of Mary and the other saints and prayer to them are quite different. What many non-Catholics mistake for adoration is a very profound love and veneration, nothing more. Traditional theology has sharply distinguished the reverence accorded to Mary and the saints ("dulia") from the worship and adoration that are due to God alone ("latria"). Mary is not adored, first because God forbids it, and secondly because the Canon Law of the Catholic Church, which is based on Divine Law, forbids it.