Wednesday, September 4, 2013

*Best of BTB #104* The Catholic Defender: The Faces of Mary

Recently, I have been hearing anti-Catholics attack Mary on the basis that she has similarities in picture and statues resembling Pagan deities.

I want to take a closer look into the charge and see why there is so much resentment towards Mary, the Mother of Jesus?

Biblical Christianity recognizes that Mary is seen through Old Testament prophecies such as "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers: He will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel" (Genesis 3:15).
The woman here originally represents Eve and the offspring represents the descendants of man. However, with the revelation of Jesus Christ as the "Son of Man", the woman's offspring then is primarily Jesus Christ.

St. Irenaeus, a second century Church Father, viewed Mary as the "New Eve". The first Eve was disobedient causing mankind to fall into a fallen race.

Mary, as the "New Eve" was obedient to God's command restoring the relationship that was lost through the merits of Jesus Christ. Mary's role is clearly shown from the beginning of the Church age.

As Jesus is the "New Adam", Mary is the "New Eve". The implication from the above scripture is that the woman will have a unique relationship with her Son.

Isaiah 7:14 gives another clue to the woman saying, "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall name him Immanuel".Immanuel is a name that means,"God is with us". This is important for the Christian who believes in the Divinity of Jesus Christ.

That Jesus would have no earthly Father, but the Word made flesh would come into the world through a humble virgin.

At the appointed time, when Mary was a Young girl, the Archangel Gabriel is sent to Mary to announce the good news of the coming Messiah.

Mary is the vessal to accomplish God's will. The angel greets Mary, "Hail,full of grace "Chaire, Kecharitomene". Mary responds, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man"?

The angel replied, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God".

This scene is known as the "Annunciation" because it was the announcement of the angel that the good news of Jesus Christ was made manifest.

There are a number of pictures that relate to this scene, sometimes they show the angel, other times they do not. But it is clear from the artist mind to give a picture relating to the Gospel of St. Luke.

These images were in no way connected to any Pagan entity. Still, there are those who will attempt to tie Mary to any such influence.

One of the most common and accepted images of Mary involve the actual birth of the Lord.

Christians the world over celebrate the birth of the Lord. Pictured many times are the holy family, Joseph with his staff, Mary and the Christ Child.

Many times a scene with animals, usually a camel, a donkey, maybe cattle are involved with the scene. The Wise Men and the shepherds are usually present.

Mary is the "virgin" whom Isaiah foretold would be the sign given the "House of David" (Isaiah 7:13).

It is interesting that the angel said to Mary at the Annunciation, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end" (Luke 1:31-33).

This is no Pagan entity, but the complete work and plan of God coming to pass. To understand the teaching regarding Mary and the Catholic Church, there must be an understanding of the foundations of the Old Testament.

The most strongest attack on Mary strangely comes from those who respond to Mary with the Christ Child.

Many times, Mary is seen holding baby Jesus with a motherly love. I have always associated this image as representative of the love between a mother and her child.

I would never have dreamed of connecting this image to any other Pagan entity. That argument is really reaching to find something to grasp, it's like trying to find something that can stick, like a snake in blind autumn?

All cultures can certainly identify with the love of a mother and their child so just because other entities might have a "goddess" that depicts a child means nothing against Mary's depiction with the child Jesus.

Consider the comparison that people make between Mary and Semiramis? Mary is the "Mother of God (Theotokos)", Semiramis is known as "God the Mother" by the Babylonians.

Mary as the "Mother of God" does not make Mary a deity; Mary points to her Son, who is 100% God and 100% man from the moment of the incarnation.

The singular graces given to Mary were specific to the role she said yes to God. She obtained the grace as a "past-perfect participle" meaning that Mary received the fruit of Jesus redemptive act on the cross.

His resurrection was already secured in her because of her faithfulness. It is also important to note: There is no real comparison between Jesus and Nimrod. They are not equals competing for worshippers.

Mary has appeared to many parts of the world at different times and the message is echoed throughout time, "Do whatever he (Jesus) tells you" (John 2:5).The Faces of Mary reflects the light of the Lord as she continues to bring Christ to those who are searching for the true Messiah.

On the world stage, Christians recall the words of Mary, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, and dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering 
  his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever"  (Luke 1:46-55).

Considering that Mary was a young girl studied on the law of God, surely, she was mindful of Psalms 45, "Daughters of kings are your lovely wives; a Queen arrayed in Ophir's gold comes to stand at your right hand. Listen,my daughter, and understand; pay me careful heed. Forget your people and your father's house, that the king might desire your beauty. He is your lord; honor him, daughter of Tyre. Then the richest of the people will seek your favor with gifts. All glorious is the king's daughter as she enters, her raiment threaded with gold; In embridered apparel she is led in with glad and joyous acclaim; they enter the palace of the king. The throne of your fathers your sons will have; you shall make them princes through all the land, I will make your name renowned through all generations; thus nations shall praise you forever" (Psalms 45:10-18).

Mary is not competing with Jesus, she is pointing the way to Him.

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