Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mary and Biblical Christianity

Below is Pope Benedict XVI's first address as pontiff from the balcony of St Peter's Basilica in Rome."Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope, John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me, a simple and humble worker in the Lord's vineyard. The fact that the Lord can work and act even with insufficient means consoles me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the resurrected Lord, we go on with his help. He is going to help us and Mary will be on our side. Thank you."

Who is really the Mary of the Bible? Everyone knows that she conceived our Lord Jesus Christ as a virgin and became part of the Lord's ministry. She is present at almost every major event in the life of Christ: from womb to tomb (Luke 1:2, 43, 2:7, 22-38; John 2:3, 19:26, Acts 1:4). I can say that Mary was a "born-again Christian" who received the Holy Spirit at the Pentecost.

Sadly, many people have exalted her above Jesus Christ which should not be the case. One of the major doctrinal divergences between evangelicals and Catholics involves Mary. The Roman Catholic Church believes that she is the "mediatrix" of original sin (Gen 3:3-24). Conversely, she is God's agent to redeem mankind. This is further established when Jesus, the God-man, came from the body of Mary. This view was originally put forth by St. Justin who lived from about 110 to 165 A.D.

Mary should be highly-esteemed for her great ministry and service to our Lord Jesus Christ. However, people should never offer her the devotion that only Christ deserves. As the Lord declares, we should only worship God and no one else (Matt. 4). Although Mary is an epitome of a true servant, Christ became the greatest servant of all when He died for us at the Cross. Mary was only human but Christ is the God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). If we will consider Mary as greater than her son, Jesus, we are contradicting what Christ himself declared in Mark 3:33-36 and John 19:26, which obviously identify Mary as a normal human being, to the extent that Christ never called her as his mother:

"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."

"When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home."

It should be noted that Mary was only human, an ordinary mother, but a woman of faith (Lk 2:19, 51). Absolutely, she was not GOD, Christ is. She is the mother of Christ in flesh, but not the Mother of God, because God is a spirit and does not have a beginning or an end. Mary died as a normal human being. Mary clearly spells out her role in Luke 1:46-49. "My soul magnifies the Lord, And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of his maidservant; For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed"

Mary needed a Savior because she, a sinful being, cannot saved herself from the curse of sin. Sshe humbled herself to receive God's favor. And she was indeed blessed.

The purpose of this message is not to demean the example of Mary both in evangelical and Catholic traditions. Rather, this is to clearly situate her in an appropriate position based on Biblical truths. We should emulate her example. Nonetheless, we should never venerate a human being because that would be a sin of idolatry.

As the author of Hebrews states (12:2), we must focus on JESUS CHRIST as the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith. The heart of our worship should be Jesus. We should pray to JESUS who is the way to the Father. We should love God by loving Jesus. We should strive to follow the examples of Jesus.

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