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Mary, Mother of the Church

Pope John continued his discourse to take the marian theology to its next stage where some of the statements are very revealing.

"The conciliar Constitution uses these terms from the Roman Canon of the Mass, thereby stressing how faith in the divine motherhood of Mary has been present in Christian thought since the first centuries. In the newborn Church Mary is remembered with the title "Mother of Jesus"." Is this not an admission that Jesus was actually remembered by the early church not as the mother of God but as the mother of Jesus. for this purpose Pope quotes the Lukan reference

"Is this not ... the son of Mary?", the residents of Nazareth wonder according to the Evangelist Mark's account (6:3), "Is not Mary known to be his mother?", is the question recorded by Matthew (13:55)" The true implication of this sarcastic remark is missed here. In the Jewish tradition children were known after their legal father. Even a child born of illegitimate relation outside the marriage is known after the husband. Why then the difference here? They were actually laughing at Jesus indirectly indicating that he was born out of wedlock, before the marriage even indicating adultery. It is in this context they mention his brothers by name.It is highly improbable that such sarcastic reference could refer to cousins and not real brothers. 

"For them, Mary is a person unique in her kind: she received the singular grace of giving birth to the Saviour of humanity; she lived for a long while at his side; and on Calvary she was called by the Crucified One to exercise a "new motherhood" in relation to the beloved disciple and, through him, to the whole Church. "

At the side of the cross, Jesus handed over Mary to the care of John.

In this statement it is hard to find how it becomes a statement that Mary is the Mother of Church unless John is identified as the Church which the Roman Church certainly deny. For practical purposes John was the spiritual heir to Jesus if Apostolic succession is based on loyalty and fidelity to Jesus and to the faith that was handed over to the saints. He was the disciple whom Jesus loved most. Yet this particular incident cannot be interpreted allegorically as declaring Mary as the Mother of the Church nor does John represent the Church. No such concept existed within the church in the first centuary at least untill the death of John. John the last of the Apostle did not even mention Mary the mother of Jesus except at the foot of the cross, and that to show that he was given the charge to take care of her. The other Gospels refer to Mary in the context of coming to take Jesus forcefully to be put in an assylum because his family thought he was mad or was possessed by a devil. The only reference to Mary in the Acts of the Apostles is just one sentence where Mary is part of the group that were praying: Act. 1:14 They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. It is interesting to note that now the entire family is part of the believing crowd.

Even Catholic theologians are aware of the difficulty of the scriptural interpretation. Catholic theologian L. Ott comments: "Specific scriptural proof does not exist. Theologians look for Biblical support for Christ's words in John 19:26: 'Woman, behold thy son!' but according to its literal meaning, these words only refer to those to whom they were directed: Mary and John." Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma, Cork, 1966, p. 214. The concept that Mary as the universal mother of all believers did not in fact appear until the 11th century.

Earlier the family including Mary were very hostile to Jesus. In spite of the appearance of the Angel and Angelic messages and the events connected with the birth Mary was totally taken up and believed that Jesus was mad or was possessed of the devil just like his opponents. Note these references:

Mark 3:20-35 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, "He is out of his mind." And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, "He is possessed by Beelzebub ! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons." ..................................................................  I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." He said this because they were saying, "He has an evil spirit." Then Jesus' mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, "Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you." "Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother."

This story is described in Mathew, Mark and Luke. But only Mark gives us the reason why his mother and brothers went to see him. John totally omits this story. The reason for it is clear. The gospels were written when Mary and the brothers of Jesus were all leaders of the Church. So in order to avoid hurting the feelings of those brethren and sister in Christ they were mentioned without descriptions. John avoided the story altogether because Mary was given into his care. Mary was living with John when he wrote the gospel. How could he mention it without hurting her. Mark on the other hand giving the perspective of Peter and with his very direct method (Mark had a critical attitude towards disciples and to all who were close to Jesus ) alone mentions why Mary and Jesus' brothers came to him. The honesty of the gospel is to be admired.

Now consider verse 29 in the above quote. The whole matter of blasphmy against the Holy Spirit seems out of place. Holy Spirit is not brought into the picture at all. What is Jesus then referring to? It is a sad story, but true. Mary who had been given grace - unmerited mercy - from God himself to bring Jesus into the world, to whom the Angel appeared and proclaimed the good news, who accepted the role of being a surrogate; could not understand what was going on. (But then John the Baptist who showed Jesus as "the Lamb of God that take away the sins of the world", had the same doubt) She knew that it was through the Holy Spirit she became pregnant with Jesus, she has seen and heard the stories of the shepherds and the wise men from the east, she heard the prophecy of Simeon. Yet when it came to the understanding of his public ministry Mary was totally misled. It was indeed a blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. Mary - his own mother, who should have understood him all along, along with his own brothers came to take him up by force to put him in a mental assylum. Verse 30 corroborates the point clearly. "He said this because they were saying "He has an evil spirit". How could Mary say that?. Did she all of sudden came to think that she became pregnant with the evil spirit? A very real possibility. Then Jesus goes on to the declaration of disclaim of Mary as his spiritual mother. Is it any wonder Mary featured very little in the early Church?

 Yet in another occasion there were mothers in the crowd who thought Jesus was great and began to eulogize his mother. Notice his instant reply. 

Lk 11:27 -28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

 This incident in reported by all the three gospels, (again John omits it). In all four gospels there is not one occasion where Jesus address Mary as mother. At all times he used the third party term mother (of course with respect because he honored his father and mother according to the law.)

What a different picture is painted for us by the Roman Church!

From what is given to us in the Holy Scripture, we know that Mary and his brothers did not believe in him. We are told that Jesus appeared to James - his brother. We know also that James became the bishop of Jerusalem. He established his mother and brothers into his faith by appearing to them and confirming his divinity. Then we see Mary among the believers. She needed the forgiveness most.

Even though official church documents does not consider, some unofficial catholic apolegetics goes to the abusrd extent of considering Mary as the spouse of the Holy Spirit. These are published under the official imprimatur of the Catholic Church and gives us the direction of the Marian movement within the church. Anyone reads throguh these will know what will be the infallible dogmatic statement in the coming decade. There is even a covert attempt to invalidate the espousal of Mary to Joseph by making him a guardian for Mary. A study of this aspect can be found at various pages in:: http://www.aloha.net/~mikesch/ .

Some scattered quotes from this study is probably illustrative.

"13. 7 As the Holy Ghost has espoused Mary, and has produced in her, by her and from her, His masterpiece, Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate, and has never repudiated His spouse, so He now continues to produce the elect, in her and by her, in a mysterious but real manner.

Source: The Secret of Mary, by St. Louis Marie Grignon de Montfort, published by Montfort Publications, Bay Shore, New York 11706, bearing the Imprimi potest, Nihil obstat and Imprimatur of the Catholic Church, page 15. ........."

"Reflection: The Holy Spirit is given to us to fashion us ever more according to the likeness of Jesus. And the more we are like Jesus, the more Jesus leads us to the Father. Do we, each day, pray to the Holy Spirit to be more open to His transforming influence? Do we strive each day to grow in union with Mary? The greater our union with our Mother, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the greater is the transforming action of the Holy Spirit within us. "

Online at Shepards of Christ Ministries.

"Moreover, Mary's profound union with the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier, leads to her role as Mediatrix of every grace bestowed to the human family. As St. Maximilian Kolbe taught, the Holy Spirit is so deeply united to Mary in the work of sanctification, that their inexpressible spousal union resembles (without fully reaching it) the union of the divine nature and human nature in the one person of Christ. And since the Holy Spirit always acts through the Virgin Mary in His sanctifying action, then all graces must come through Mary as Mediatrix of all graces.

Source: Quote from Introduction to Mary, by Mark Miravalle, S.T.D., copyright 1993, bearing the Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat of the Catholic Church, published by Queenship Publishing Company, P.O. Box 42028, Santa Barbara, California, 93140-2028, page 167. "

"Please note that the above claims that Mary through her union with the Holy Spirit has very nearly achieved the same status of diety / humanity as Jesus Christ! And because of the presumed status of near-deity, Mary is allegedly qualified to dispense all grace in the role of Mediatrix! This is blasphemy! Who does not see the spirit of AntiChrist in this?

In scripture, you will find that the only spouse mentioned for Mary was her husband, Joseph: "

"The Bible is quite silent about Mary being the "spouse" of the Holy Spirit and you have to dig a little to find references to this teaching in Catholic sources. Even the new Vatican Catechism does not mention it. I suspect this idea originates in the delicate sensibilities and logic of the Catholic mind, which apparently assumes that for the Holy Spirit to conceive Jesus in Mary, the two should rightly be married! This same kind of human logic results in the dogmas of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, the Queenship of Mary and the doctrine of Mary the Mediatrix of all graces, all of which cannot be found in the Bible and are nothing more than the Traditions of men."

Another concept which is developed parallel to the spouse of the Holy Spirit is the concept that Mary is the new Eve. This is to support the concept that she is the mother of all new mankind - mother of the Church. Jesus is the New Adam and Mary is the New Eve according to this approach. However the problem is that Bible nowhere refers to Mary as the New Eve. None of the Apostles ever declared her as such. There is also the problem that while First Adam and First Eve were husband and wife, the New Adam and Mary are son and mother. Or did Jesus marry Mary? Is this a case of gnostic mistaken identity who consider Mary Magdelene as the wife of Jesus or is it a confusion with the legend of Semiramis and Tammuz?].Actually nowhere in the Bible Eve is blamed for the fall. Eve was deceived. But it was Adam who fell who willingly and in full knowledge disobeyed God. So the onus of redemption rested fully on Man

1 cor 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.

Bible also defines the role of women and how they can bring salvation.
1 Tim 2:13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.
15 But women will be saved through childbearing---if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.
Mary's role was just that

Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

As such we do not encounter the concept of New Eve in the Apostolic Church at all. Nowhere in the scripture the name New Eve is ever mentioned. It is a concotion of human mind in the latter period in order to accomodate Mariolatory.

If none of these fit Mary to the position of New Eve, what is the comparison? The identification is based on the obedience. First Eve disobeyed the command of law in eating from the forbidden tree. Mary submitted herself before the Lord and agreed to be the surrogate mother for Jesus to incarnate. The real comparison is very meagre to warrant any vast theological implication from it. Again don't every believer have the same choice? We are born again in the Spirit only of our free choice. Does that also make us new Adam and new Eve? Did not generations of Jews submit themselves to the will of the Lord even unto death by being obedient to the Lord? Imagine the mothers of the holocaust. We have many who were martyred because of their faith. So spiritual interpretation of this concept is intended every believer beomes the New Eve and Mary does not have any predominance. Actually this interpretation is intended when Jesus was asking the question, "Who is my mother?".

Mat. 12:48 He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?"
49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers.
50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother."