Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Jesus Obeyed the Fifth Commandment - Therefore Mariolatry is ok?

Jesus explicitly repudiated people who singled out his mother for special attention. For example:

Luke 11:27-28
And it came to pass, as he spake these things, a certain woman of the company lifted up her voice, and said unto him, Blessed is the womb that bare thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked. But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.

When we bring up the fact that Jesus explicitly repudiated people who singled out his mother for special attention, however, we sometimes get a zinger like this one: "Our Lord obeyed all the commandments including ‘honor your mother and father’ and did not repudiate her." (Sean Patrick)

This zinger is faulty for a couple of reasons:

1) Of course, no one is arguing that Jesus sinned. Jesus could say that his flesh and blood relationships with his physical siblings and mother are basically insignificant compared to the relationship every believer has by faith in Christ, without breaking the fifth commandment.

2) The zinger assumes that Jesus was under Mary's authority. It's tempting to make this argument because Mary was - as to his humanity - his mother. But Jesus was unlike every other child - he was his own mother's creator. She owed her existence to him in a much more important way than the way in which he owed his existence (i.e. only the existence of his human nature - and only by choice) to her. It is no dishonor to her, therefore, for Him to repudiate the idea of her having either special devotion or any special privileges with respect to him in the Kingdom of Heaven.

3) The Mariolaters are actually in good company in making this error in reasoning. Peter (who Jesus called Simon here, demonstrating to us that the name "Peter" was a surname, not a change in name) made a similar mistake.

Matthew 17:24-27
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee.

Jesus was Jewish and within the realm of the Roman empire, but whether this was the temple tax or the Roman tribute, Christ was not required to pay. And remember that tribute and honor are different, but fall within the same general category of duties of the fifth commandment.

Romans 13:7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.

4) Moreover, Mary herself repudiates this error. Remember that Mary herself describes herself as the "handmaid of the Lord" (ἡ δούλη Κυρίου) not as His mistress. What a strange thing it would be to assert (without divine authority) that it is the handmaid who has authority over the Lord!

5) The only times we have Mary acting in something like an authoritative way toward Jesus, we see her getting shot down:

a) The attempts to get Jesus to come out from the midst of the crowd:

Matthew 12:46-50
While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Mark 3:20-35
And the multitude cometh together again, so that they could not so much as eat bread. And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself. And the scribes which came down from Jerusalem said, He hath Beelzebub, and by the prince of the devils casteth he out devils. And he called them unto him, and said unto them in parables, How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end. No man can enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he will first bind the strong man; and then he will spoil his house. Verily I say unto you, All sins shall be forgiven unto the sons of men, and blasphemies wherewith soever they shall blaspheme: but he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: because they said, He hath an unclean spirit. There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.

Luke 8:19-21
Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.

And – of course – his comments in Luke 11:27-28 (quoted above) fit right in with his other teachings about who his true mother and brethren are in contrast to his physical mother and brethren (sorry if the idea of Mary having children with her husband offends you).

b) The attempt to get Jesus to perform a miracle:

John 2:1-5
And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: and both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage. And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine. Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come. His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

Some people say that because Jesus nevertheless obliged his mother, that it proves he was under some sort of duty to do so. But if you really follow that reasoning, you should note that the servants also did what Mary suggested. Do you think they considered themselves under an obligation to obey her? Surely not.

c) The scolding of Jesus for staying in Jerusalem when his family went home:

Luke 2:42-52
And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

6) On the contrary, Jesus both ordered his mother and handed off his filial relationship / responsibilities to one of his disciples.

John 19:25-27
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw his mother, and the disciple standing by, whom he loved, he saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home.

Conclusion

This zinger to which we've responded to is simply one response that Rome's apologists offer. One of the zinger's co-bloggers tried to come to his assistance with this:
That being said, on the surface it might appear that Jesus is doing what you say Our Lord is doing, repudiating devotion to His mother. But, let us remember Luke as a whole.
(Tom Reillo)

But this gets a similar response to the response we've given above. The whole of Luke (and of the gospels generally) supports our position regarding Jesus and his attitude toward to his biological mother.

The commenter continued:
As a reader of the Gospel, we have already learned that Mary is one who has received the Word of God, namely at the Annunciation, “may it be done according to thy word.” And she, we are told, kept the things concerning Her Son in her heart. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his beautiful reflections on Mary, rather than being repudiated, the reader would already know that Mary is the model of discipleship, she receives the Word of God and she holds that Word deep within her and ponders and cherishes them in her heart.
But actually:

Luke 2:48-52
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

a) Note that Jesus "was subject to them." Not to "her," meaning to Mary, but to them - both Mary and Joseph (whom Mary referred to as Jesus "father"). Of course, Joseph has no paternal authority over Jesus now - and people should realize that Mary likewise has no maternal authority over Jesus now either.

b) Note that Jesus "was subject to them." The Greek is "ἦν ὑποτασσόμενος" which is a periphrastic pluperfect. The sense of the verb conveys to us that there was a then existing state of obedience of Jesus to his earthly parents. It was, however, a then-existing state. At that time, he submitted to his earthly parents' request and left Jerusalem.

c) Note most of all "they understood not the saying which he spake unto them." Mary remembered all the things that Jesus said, but she did not understand them. That she kept them in her heart makes her valuable as Luke's eyewitness, but not particularly admirable as a disciple - especially when Mary herself understood the manner in which Jesus had been conceived.

Likewise:

Luke 2:17-19
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

Again, Mary is apparently Luke's eyewitness to the events, but she "wondered at those things which were told ... by the shepherds," meaning (it appears) that she did not really understand.

d) "Ponders and cherishes(?) them in her heart" - Notice that this commenter has gone beyond the text in a significant way. He adds in the idea that Mary loved the things that she pondered. The text does not say this, nor does it imply it. It's simply an addition.

e) "receives the Word of God and she holds that Word deep within her" - Like many unauthorized typographies, this one breaks down in a rather dramatic way, namely that after nine months of holding Jesus deep within her, Mary pushed him out, never to return! That would make for a terrible illustration of what it means to be a disciple, so naturally the extremely selective mariolater cannot mention that detail. And, of course, there's no connection between that typology and Mary's pondering the things that the shepherds and Jesus said, although the commenter makes it sound as though the two ideas are connected.

In short, while the commenter is right that we need to look at Luke and the gospels as a whole, the whole does not change the perspective we gained from Luke 11:27-28. Jesus repudiated Mariolatry. The fact that Mary was, according to the flesh, Jesus' mother does not change anything. Indeed, in the kingdom of heaven anyone who believes is Jesus' brother and sister and mother. Could Jesus have said it more clearly? I certainly don't think so.

-TurretinFan

7 comments:

JoJo said...

This is such an excellent post, TF! May God bless you and your ministry!

natamllc said...

I kinda thought you were going there.

I am glad you are bringing this debate over here!

Sean:

" ...There is so much there that one misses when one departs from the church, it is honestly sad."

Just a note of interest in those words. Not a mention of departing from God or the Word of His Grace. To me, honestly, that is what is so sad in the face of verses such as these Words from Acts 20:

Act 20:32 And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

They want to believe sanctification is a work of the Church! Hmmmmm!

Even their great apostle and first pope, Peter, a married man mind you, saw sanctification so much differently than the RCC does.

Here's Peter:

1Pe 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia,
1Pe 1:2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.


And, yes,

Tom R:

As Pope John Paul II pointed out in his beautiful reflections on Mary, rather than being repudiated, the reader would already know that Mary is the model of discipleship, she receives the Word of God and she holds that Word deep within her and ponders and cherishes them in her heart.

This is so nonsensical and funny I am having a hard time reading it with a sober mind.

We should all rejoice that Mary came to obedience to the Faith.

We should all rejoice that Mary was as a handmaid of the Lord should be, His disciple.

Discipleship. Hmmmm. One who comes under the teaching of another to learn from them and follow them and come to emulate them in every respect.

The Teacher is always "greater" than the one He teaches.

The Architect is always given greater honor than his architecture.

I would like to know Tom's views on pedagogy!

Better yet, I would like to know his teachers so I can ask them if they thought it expediate to teach him anything?

The more one just ponders what they teach logically, the more crazy their understanding appears and becomes!

Here's some Words that hopefully should give a sense of the problem with making Mary both master/teacher of the Faith she was certainly given and being a disciple holding in her heart the revelations and teachings she came to see His Lordship and Crown by:

Ecc 5:6 Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
Ecc 5:7 For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.
Ecc 5:8 If you see in a province the oppression of the poor and the violation of justice and righteousness, do not be amazed at the matter, for the high official is watched by a higher, and there are yet higher ones over them.
Ecc 5:9 But this is gain for a land in every way: a king committed to cultivated fields.

dtking said...

Thanks TF for this blog. I like the gloss of Augustine...

Augustine (354-430): It is written in the Gospel, of the mother and brethren of Christ, that is, His kindred after the flesh, that, when word had been brought to Him, and they were standing without, because they could not come to Him by reason of the crowd, He made answer, “Who is My mother? or who are My brethren? and stretching forth His Hand over His disciples, He saith, These are My brethren: and whosoever shall have done the will of My Father, that man is to Me brother, and mother, and sister.” What else teaching us, than to prefer to kindred after the flesh, our descent after the Spirit: and that men are not blessed for this reason, that they are united by nearness of flesh unto just and holy men, but that, by obeying and following, they cleave unto their doctrine and conduct. Therefore Mary is more blessed in receiving the faith of Christ, than in conceiving the flesh of Christ. For to a certain one who said, “Blessed is the womb, which bare Thee,” He Himself made answer, “Yea, rather, blessed are they who hear the Word of God, and keep it.” Lastly, to His brethren, that is, His kindred after the flesh, who believed not in Him, what profit was there in that being of kin? Thus also her nearness as a Mother would have been of no profit to Mary, had she not born Christ in her heart after a more blessed manner than in her flesh. NPNF1: Vol. III, Of Holy Virginity, §3.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

"Jesus repudiated Mariolatry."

The difficulty is that the RC's claim that they repudiate Mariolatry as well. And they also claim that they don't practice Mariolatry.

Further, they counterclaim that Protestants practice Bibliolatry.

Things then spiral down from there.

It's frustrating.

Jeph said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
SGcer said...

Exalting Mary beyond what is proper is a form of Mariolatry, you know.

Lvka said...

Well, here's my take on it.