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  • David Martin | The Daily Knight

Marian Apologetics for Separated Brethren

David Martin | The Daily Knight

Virgin Madonna and Child (1888, William-Adolphe Bouguereau)

Separated brethren often cite the pet verse of Matthew 12:46-50 to try to establish that Jesus had brothers and sisters through Mary, when in fact the point of this verse is to show our justification through obedience and good works. It in fact is one of the key scriptural refutations of Protestant doctrine, for therein Christ emphasizes the performance of God's will as the requisite for salvation. A man in the crowd noted that Mary and the Apostles wanted to speak to Jesus, so the man said to Jesus, “Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without, seeking thee.” Jesus answered, “Who is my mother, and who are my brethren? And stretching forth his hand towards his disciples, he said: Behold my mother and my brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of my Father, that is in Heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12: 47-50) The twelve Apostles and Mary were Christ's chosen ones who were regarded as such by the people, since the Apostles followed Jesus in His travels. By Jesus pointing them out to the people, He was entreating them to look to their example, as if to say, don’t count yourselves out, you too can be my disciples if you imitate their example and “do the will of my Father that is in Heaven.” This was an exhortation to keep the commandments and be doers of the word, that we too might be of Christ’s elect. “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” (Romans 2:13) Jesus Had No Brothers and Sisters By referring to his elect as his brothers, mother, etc., Jesus was obviously speaking in figurative terms, since he had only one Mother, who in turn had only one Son. The Bible points out that the Apostles each had their own parents. For example, John and James, the two sons of thunder were the sons of Zebedee and his wife Mary Salome, which means they were not the sons of Joseph's wife, Mary. In other words, Jesus had no brothers and sisters from Mary. "Brethren" is simply used to indicate associates or acquaintances, not blood brothers. Also, in the old Hebrew usage, the word "till" or "until" was used to denote what was done without reference to a future time. For instance, God the Father said to the Son, “Sit on my right hand till I make thy enemies thy footstool.” (Matthew 22: 44) That is, sit on my right hand forever. Shall Christ no longer sit at his right hand once his enemies are subdued? Or in Isaias 46:4, God tells Jacob, “I am till you grow old.” That is, I am forever. In Genesis 8:6,7, it says that “Noe sent forth a raven, which went forth, and did not return till the waters were dried up on the earth.” That is, it never returned. Mary Was Ever Virgin Likewise, Matthew 1:25 says that Joseph “knew Mary not till she brought forth her firstborn son.” That is, he never knew her carnally, before or after Jesus' birth. The point of the verse is to show the miraculous nature of Christ's birth in how it occurred without the aid of man. Also, the word "firstborn" in Hebrew was used to indicate "only begotten." That is, the first and only. The Pharisees would quote scriptures to try to refute Jesus and trap him in his words, but Jesus masterfully replied: “Search the scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting; and the same are they that give testimony of me.” (John 5: 39) These words also apply to those who use Scripture to try to tear down the dignity of the Mother of God. She is called the Mother of God because she is the Mother of Christ, who is God. (John 1:3) The hand of the Almighty used Mary to open up the story of man's redemption, wherefore all generations since Christ have called her blessed, fulfilling her prophecy: “All generations shall call me blessed.” (Luke 1: 48)

Elizabeth Reverenced Mary

St. Elizabeth was inspired by the Holy Ghost to perceive Mary's true significance when she went to visit her. The Gospel relates: “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she cried out with a loud voice, saying: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1: 41-43)

To think that under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the elderly and saintly Elizabeth stooped down to the youthful Mary and said, ‘Who am I that the mother of God should come to me!’ Her regard for Mary set the stage as to how all generations should regard her. Elizabeth reverenced Mary, saying, “Blessed art thou among women,” which is an example for all people to follow. If she referred to the Blessed Virgin as the Mother of her Lord and God, why wouldn’t any true Christian do the same?

The Archangel Hailed Mary

Even the great Archangel Gabriel, speaking on behalf of the heavenly court, praised Mary when he announced to her that she was to be the Mother of God, saying, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” (Luke 1: 28) If a high angel of heaven Hailed Mary because she was to be the Mother of God, shouldn't we sinners Hail Mary for having been the Mother of God? Or do separated brethren find fault with the Archangel for having honored her so? Angels are given to men by God to be their guides, so shouldn’t we follow the angel’s lead by Hailing Mary?

What defies logic is how some deny Mary's intercessory role when she was used by the Almighty to bring the Messiah into the world. Her purpose in Bible history is to bring Christ to man, beginning with the Incarnation, and continuing to this very day. The frequent citing of 1 Timothy 2:5 to try to disprove Mary's intermediary role is futile. In vain do they quote: “For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Jesus Christ: Who gave himself a redemption for all.” (1 Timothy 2:5,6)

This verse of scripture refers specifically to Christ's redemptive role on the cross, which was needed to open the lines between Heaven and earth, since none but the Son of God Himself could have accomplished this. But we still need the intercessory role of teachers and preachers to bring Christ to man, since faith "cometh by hearing." (Romans 10:17) “And how shall they hear, without a preacher?" (10:14) The grace and truth of Christ is dispensed by those that are sent by Christ, namely, the preachers of the Faith. St. Paul referred to himself and the Apostles as Christ's "ambassadors" in their role to reconcile God to man. “For Christ therefore, we are ambassadors, God as it were exhorting by us. For Christ, we beseech you, be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5: 20)

Mediatrix of all Grace

If it is proper to refer to the Apostles as mediators for Christ, how much more proper is it to refer to Mary this way? Without Mary the Apostles wouldn’t have had a Messiah to preach. For while it was Christ who redeemed the world by His Sacrifice, it was Mary who channeled Christ into the world and who continues to channel his grace to us. She is the Mediatrix of all Grace who dispenses the blessings of Her Son to mankind. Her intercessory role is alluded to in the Old Testament:

“Now all good things came to me together with her, and innumerable riches through her hands. And I rejoiced in all these: for this wisdom went before me, and I knew not that she was the mother of them all.” (Wisdom 7: 11,12) Mary is the Mother of any good we possess, being the Mother of God's children. “I am the mother of fair love, and of fear, and of knowledge, and of holy hope. In me is all grace of the way and of the truth, in me is all hope of life and of virtue. Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruit.” (Ecclesiasticus 24: 24-26)

The fruit of Mary's womb is Christ, the Author of life and the source of all grace. Mary entreats all to "come over to her" to be filled with her fruits, that “they may have life, and may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

Feast of the Annunciation, March 25, 2021


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