Monday, August 19, 2013

Veneration of Mary: Is it biblical?

Straight forward answer of Catholics 
to all bashers of Marian Veneration
For the third time, we will try to scrutinize the Bible so as to confirm its catholicity in terms of its teachings.

Another question has been posted regarding the biblical foundation of Marian veneration:
If the Bible is a Catholic book...
Why does it teach against the adoration of Mary? (Luke 11:27-28)
MY REPLY: Before proceeding with the supposed issue, I want to stress that CATHOLICS do not WORSHIP Mary as if we consider her as a goddess (that would be blasphemous). ADORATION (Latria) is for God, the most Holy Trinity, alone while VENERATION (Dulia) is for the heroes of faith (e.g. saints) most specially Mary (Hyperdulia), the first Christian.
The Assumption of the Blessed Mother
"All generations will call me blessed": "The Church's devotion to the Blessed Virgin is intrinsic to Christian worship." The Church rightly honors "the Blessed Virgin with special devotion. From the most ancient times the Blessed Virgin has been honored with the title of 'Mother of God,' to whose protection the faithful fly in all their dangers and needs. . . . This very special devotion . . . differs essentially from the adoration which is given to the incarnate Word and equally to the Father and the Holy Spirit, and greatly fosters this adoration." The liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and Marian prayer, such as the rosary, an "epitome of the whole Gospel," express this devotion to the Virgin Mary. 
CCC # 971
Now, anti-Catholics often use Luke 11:27-28 as a proof text to demolish Catholic veneration of Mary...
Luke 11:27-28 NRSVCE 
While he was saying this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you and the breasts that nursed you!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!”
They insist that Jesus negated the "blessedness" of "the womb that bore him and the breasts that nursed him" which points to none other than Mary, her mother. However, they overlooked the context of Jesus' reply to the woman in the crowd and so they missed his point.

Dave Armstrong, a renowned american Catholic apologist, in response explained in his blog (Biblical Evidence for Catholicism) that the woman was actually complimenting Jesus, not Mary. The word "rather" (menounge; Strong's word #3304) apparently can mean a contrast but not necessarily negate what came before it. The second premise do not undermine the first, but merely expanded upon it, making the category even broader. 

In fact, New Bible Commentary, a reputable Protestant reference, states:
The woman's rather sentimental benediction on Jesus' mother meant, 'If only I had such a son as this.' Jesus' reply is that something else matters far more, to hear the message He proclaimed and to obey it (cf. 6:46-49). 
Luke 11:27-28, New Bible Commentary, ed. D. Guthrie, rev. 1970, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, p. 906
Now, let's examine if Mary did really "hear the word of God and obey it"...

*Mary fulfilled all prophecies regarding her being the mother of the coming Messiah... the New Eve / New Woman
Genesis 3:15 NRSVCE
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
 Take note that Jesus, the new Adam (cf. Rom. 5:14; 1 Cor. 15:22, 45), never called her "mother, mama, mom, etc" but only "WOMAN" (cf. Jn 2:4, 19:26-27; Gal. 4:4; Rev. 12:1ff) not to disrespect her but to emphasize the fulfilment of the prophesied woman of Genesis on her. the Ark of the New Covenant
2 Samuel 6:1ff NASB 
Now David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. And David arose and went with all the people who were with him to Baale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God which is called by the Name, the very name of the Lord of hosts who is enthroned above the cherubim. They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were leading the new cart. So they brought it with the ark of God from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark. Meanwhile, David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the Lord with all kinds of instruments made of fir wood, and with lyres, harps, tambourines, castanets and cymbals. 
But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, andGod struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.  David became angry because of the Lord’s outburst against Uzzah, and that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. So David was afraid of the Lord that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” And David was unwilling to move the ark of the Lord into the city of David with him; but David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. Thus the ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the Lord blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
Interestingly, these passages are parallel to Luke 1:39ff showing Mary's visitation to Elizabeth. Striking parallelism is exhibited to the greetings of Mary's cousin which is almost verbatim to that of David. The Church also argues that Mary indeed personified the ARK OF THE COVENANT for she literally bore in her womb the Living Bread (Manna), the Highest Priest and the incarnate Word of God. the Royal Queen of the New Davidic Kingdom / New Bathsheba
 1 Kings 1:16-17, 29-30
…bowed in homage to the king, who said to her, "What do you wish?" She answered him:"My lord, you swore to me your handmaid by the Lord, your God, that my son Solomon should reign after you and sit upon your throne."…The king swore, "As the Lord lives, who has delivered me from all distress, this very day I will fulfill the oath I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon should reign after me and should sit upon my throne in my place." 
In Old Testament times, the Queen of Israel was not the King's wife (because the king had many wives – a harem), but rather his mother: So Mary, the mother of Jesus who is the KING of the New and Everlasting Davidic Kingdom (cf. Lk. 1:32), deserves to be called as the legitimate Royal Queen. the virgin daughter of Zion 

Zechariah 2:10 NRSVCE
Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord.
Psalm 45:10-11 NRSVCE

Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; forget your people and your father’s house, Since he is your lord, bow to him;
Isaiah 7:14 NASB 
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
These passages are all confirmed to Mary, being the prophesied Virgin, by Saints Matthew and Luke, the evangelists in the prologue of their Gospels (cf. Mt. 1:22-23; Lk. 1:27-34).

*Mary takes heed to the message of God through Angel Gabriel
Luke 1:28-38 NRSVCE 
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
*Mary sings her Magnificat as an exultation to God
Luke 1:46-55 NRSVCE 
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,  according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
*Mary assists the early Church through her prayers
Acts 1:14 NRSVCE 
All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.
On that note, Jesus actually affirmed that His own mother is deserving of the highest veneration, though not only because she was His natural mother, but also because she was faithful to His word to an eminent degree.

Jesus knew the law very well and he never violated it including the commandment to honor parents (Honor thy father and mother...; cf. Ex. 20:12). If the Lord himself gave due veneration to Mary, who are we to lambast and disregard her--the Mother of the Lord?

Finally, even Protestant Fathers affirmed the blessedness of Mary:
…she is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin… God's grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil… God is with her, meaning that all she did or left undone is divine and the action of God in her. Moreover, God guarded and protected her from all that might be hurtful to her. 
Martin Luther, founder of Lutheran Church 
Luther's Works, American edition, vol. 43, p. 40 , ed. H. Lehmann, Fortress, 1968
To this day we cannot enjoy the blessing brought to us in Christ without thinking at the same time of that which God gave as adornment and honour to Mary, in willing her to be the mother of his only-begotten Son. 
John Calvin, founder of Presbyterian Church 
John Calvin, A Harmony of Matthew, Mark and Luke, St. Andrew's Press, Edinburgh, 1972, p.32 
I firmly believe that Mary, according to the words of the gospel as a pure Virgin brought forth for us the Son of God and in childbirth and after childbirth forever remained a pure, intact Virgin…I esteem immensely the Mother of God, the ever chaste, immaculate Virgin Mary …Christ… was born of a most undefiled Virgin. 
Ulrich Zwingli, contemporary of Luther and Swiss protestant theologian
Stakemeier, E. in De Mariologia et Oecumenismo, Balic, K., ed., Rome,1962, p. 456

CONCLUSION: The Bible affirms VENERATION not ADORATION to MARY, ergo, the Bible is indeed a Catholic book! :)

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