Sunday, January 16, 2011
Lovely Little Mary
Scripture tells us about the Annunciation, the visit to Elizabeth's happy home, the betrothal and marriage to Joseph, the birth in the manger, the visit to the temple for the child's circumcision, the visit from the magi, the flight into Egypt, the return to Nazareth, the later visit to Jerusalem and her son's absence while in dialogue with the scholars, the miracle at the wedding feast in Cana, her attempt to remove her son from the stresses of overmuch ministry, her painful presence at the scene of crucifixion, her growing relationship with John the beloved, her inclusion with the 120 at Pentecost.
And that's it!
Historic tradition tells us something about her later life in Ephesus with John. Nothing about her death. Certainly nothing about her assumption into heaven.
Where have these things come from about her super-human features in the likeness of her Son? An immaculate conception...of Mary. A deathless assumption into heaven...of Mary. Perpetual virginity. A mediatorial role with respect to our prayers alongside Jesus.
These are the pronouncements of Popes. Popes who say that they were strangely warmed in their spirits after the release of the revelation. They all tie in with a need to represent her as worthy of the miraculous event of Jesus' immaculate conception. But she was human. Her Son would have to represent Adam's race in redeeming it (Romans 5:11-19). It was with her as it is with all believers. Grace is given to the undeserving for reasons known only to God. This is not to say that Mary of Nazareth was not a conscionable, refreshing flower in the Jewish community well versed in the faith of her fathers. The Magnificat bears this out (Luke 1:46-55).
To the Romish tradition I say...never mind that the scriptures have her delighting before Elizabeth in the arrival of 'her Saviour'. Never mind that Matthew's Gospel confirms that sexual relations with husband Joseph were postponed until after the arrival of Jesus. Never mind that the Gospels confirm that Jesus had brothers and sisters. Never mind that Jesus at least once put off the petitions of His mother to 'calm down' by replying that in the new economy 'his mother and brethren were those who heard the word of God and obeyed it'.
I guess that if an authority is big enough and repeats error long enough, falsehood becomes truth. Mary sees all of this with regret. Perhaps if given the opportunity she would say again what was uttered to the wine-bearing servants at the wedding feast in John 2:
5His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.
I am reminded of what was said by John at the end of his Epistle. John, the one entrusted with care of Mary in her declining years:
19And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.
20And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
21Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.