One of the great divides in Catholic-Protestant relationships is the Mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Most, if not all, Protestants simply cannot fathom why Catholics put such a premium on including her in our prayers and in our Church. They wrongly believe that we are “worshiping her” when we are actually invoking her for her intercessory prayer. Still others erroneously think that we are committing the sin of necromancy by trying to conjure her up and asking her for esoteric knowledge about the future. The purpose of this article is to answer these objections.
The Old Testament Types
In Genesis 3:15, God says that “the Woman” will be at enmity with the devil. Enmity is a life-long hatred. This is one very special woman, because God also says in Genesis 3 that “her seed” will crush the head of Satan. We know that women do not have seeds; rather, they have eggs. Therefore, this woman will be a one-of-a-kind woman who has a seed. This points to the virgin birth of Christ, who did indeed crush the head of the serpent on Golgotha, the “place of the skull.”
Mary is also the fulfillment of the “Queen Mother” type. Jewish kings since King Solomon elevated their mothers, rather than their wives, to be the Queen of Israel. Why? Because King Solomon had 700 wives and 300 concubines, so it would really be tough to pick one of them out to be Queen, and not have the rest get mad. King Solomon instead had his mother Bathsheba as his Queen. In 1 Kings 2:20, we learn that the King will not refuse his Queen mother anything. In John 2, we see that Jesus didn’t refuse His mother’s request either to help out with the wine at the wedding feast at Cana. The Queen Mother is known as the “Gebirah” in Hebrew. Notice that “Gebirah” sounds like “Gabriel.” “Gabriel” means “the strength of God.” The Hebrew root word for Gabriel is “gabar,” which means “strong.” It is the same root word that “Gebirah” has as well, which indicates that Mary is also the strength of God.
The Old Testament Ark of the Covenant, according to Scripture (Hebrews 9:4), had three things inside of it: supernatural bread from heaven (manna), the Word of God in stone (the Ten Commandments), and the rod of Aaron, symbolizing the High Priesthood. The rod of Aaron actually resprouted and came back to life in Numbers 17:8. Just so, Mary, while pregnant with Jesus, also had inside of her the supernatural bread from heaven (“I AM the bread of life, John 6: 48), The Word of God made Flesh (John 1:14), and the eternal High Priest Jesus (Hebrews 6:20), who, like the rod of Aaron, also came back to life. The Old Testament Ark was very pure and holy, so much so that only the High Priest could touch it. Likewise, only Jesus, the eternal High Priest, could come out of Mary’s womb.
We are in a Covenant Relationship with Jesus
This may sound strange to those Protestants who only have a “personal relationship” with Jesus. Catholics believe that we are part of God’s family, through an oath process. The Latin word for oath is “sacramentum.” Yes, that’s right: the sacraments are oaths that we take to be part of God’s family. For example, marriage is a covenant relationship where two formerly unrelated people become man and wife, by taking an oath before God, with Christ as their head. As God said in Genesis 2:24, “The two shall become one flesh.” In Matthew 25, we learn that Jesus is the bridegroom, and the Church is the Bride. Therefore, we in the Church are “married” to Christ through the Church and the sacraments. Every time we participate in the sacraments, we are taking an oath to be part of God’s family, whether it’s being born again through water and the spirit in Baptism, or by eating the flesh of Christ and drinking His blood in the Eucharist, or by rising from the deadness of our sins once again in Confession. And since we are married to Jesus through the Church, we also get His mother as well. Just as married people have to love and accept their mother-in-law as part of their new family, just so, if we are truly one with Christ (the two shall become one flesh), then we have to also embrace Mary as our mother as well.
Her Soul Magnifies the Lord
We know from Luke 1:49 and Mary’s Magnificat that the Lord has done great things for Mary. But most importantly, we learn from Sacred Scripture that Mary’s soul MAGNIFIES the Lord (In the Latin Vulgate from St. Jerome – “Magnificat anima mea Dominum”). When something is magnified, it becomes larger, clearer, and more in focus. So when Mary’s soul (her soul is still very much alive) magnifies Jesus, Jesus becomes more important in our lives, his commands become clearer and easier to follow, and it becomes easier to focus on heavenly things, while ignoring the vanities of the world. Also, if one holds a magnifying glass just right over an object and focuses the sun’s rays on it, the object will catch on fire. Just so, when looking at Jesus through the lens of Mary, the fire of the Holy Spirit in Mary will ignite a blaze in our hearts that will help us all to overcome Satan and set the world on fire for Christ.
Intercessory Prayer is Biblical
So many people wrongly believe that talking to the dead is a sin. It is a sin to initiate contact with the dead to conjure them up and get hidden knowledge about the future, but that isn’t what we do when we ask for Mary’s prayer. Jesus talked to the dead Lazarus when he said “Lazarus, come forth,” in John 11:43. Jesus also talked to the dead when he conversed with Moses and Elijah during the Transfiguration, in Matthew 17:3. Peter talked to the dead in Acts 9:40 when he said, “Tabitha, arise.” Thus, conversation with the dead itself is not problematic.
St. Paul tells us in 1 Timothy 2:1 that intercessory prayer is a great thing. St. James tells us in James 5:16 that the prayers of a holy person are very powerful. St. Luke tells us in Luke 20:38 that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living. St. Paul tells us in Hebrews 12:1 that we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Putting all of four of these verses together means that the great cloud of witnesses is not a huge pile of corpses, but is very much alive and witnessing to Christ for us (that’s what witnesses do–they tell a judge the truth about what they see). We know from the lips of Christ in Matthew 11:11 that the least born in heaven is greater than anyone on earth, so who better to get to pray for us as intercessors to God than someone who is in heaven? Mary’s prayers are especially powerful, because she is the first Christian, the first evangelist, and the closest person ever to Christ. And the really good news (besides the fact of the power of her prayers) is that Mary can pray for you 24/7/365, while you are asleep, while you are working, and even when you’re sinning!
Jesus gives us His Mother from the Cross
As Jesus was dying on the cross, giving every drop of blood that he had for our sins, He also gave us His mother, with the words, “Behold your mother.” Notice that He didn’t say, “JOHN, behold your mother.” Why? Because Jesus was addressing us all, not just John. Like John, however, we should all take Mary into our homes.
And since Mary is our spiritual mother, we know she will protect us, as any mother would. In nature, it is always the mother who raises and protects the children, while the father is assigned other duties. Anybody who was raised on a farm knows that it is the mother cow, rather than the bull, who will come after you if you try to approach her calf. Just so, Mary, our spiritual mother, protects us, her born-again children, from Satan and the evils of the world.
We all know the commandment to honor our own mother. God told us to do that in Exodus 20:12. But no matter how great our own mother is, she was not selected to have Jesus live inside of her for 9 months. Mary was chosen to be the living tabernacle of God, and for that reason alone, we should honor her, just as the Jews honored the Holy of Holies in the temple.
Unless one is a test-tube Christian, it is impossible to be born without a mother. Being born again, in the Catholic view, is to be born from above through water and spirit during Baptism. To be reborn spiritually means that one also has to have a spiritual mother. That mother can only be the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is why Jesus gave her to us from the cross. Revelation 12:17 even says that we are her offspring (“semine” (semen in English), the same root word as used in Genesis 3:15, which means “seed.”) if we obey the commandments and bear testimony to Christ.
United to the Trinity
Mary is the bride of the Holy Spirit (Jesus was NOT illegitimate!), the mother of Christ, and the daughter of God the Father. That means that she is the most “united to God” person on the planet, ever. 1 Corinthians 6:17 says, “But he who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him.” Therefore, Mary can be considered to be one in spirit with God, because no other person ever was as united to Him physically or as spiritually.
Full of Grace
And last but not least, Mary, according to Gabriel, is “full of grace.” The Greek word used in the original text of Luke is “kecharitomene,” which has the connotation of “you who have been filled with grace.” Since we know that there is no room for sin in someone who is full of grace, that means that her prayers are very powerful. The Bible also says that a bad tree cannot bear good fruit, so since Jesus is pure and holy, so must Mary be as well (Elizabeth called Jesus the “fruit of her womb”). Mary’s role back then was to bring grace (Jesus) into the world physically. Her role now is to bring grace into the world spiritually.
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