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Mary in the Bible (Part 2)

September 18, 2006

Preliminaries

Part 1: Introduction

Throughout this week I will posting on the important topic, “Mary in the Bible.” Please keep checking in for these posts.

Before digging into the Catholic Church’s favorite book, the Bible, I wish to first remark on where Catholics are coming from when they look to Mary with veneration and devotion. As will be shown, to neglect Mary and her pivotal part in our redemption (which was accomplished by Jesus and his merits in its totality) is to neglect certain teachings and images of the scriptures. In fact, to ignore Mary is to ignore a key component of Christ’s own teaching.

As I mentioned before, one must hold firmly to two principles in order to accept the role of Mary as described by Catholic doctrine and devotion. If you do not hold to both of these principles, then you will not understand—and consequently will not accept—Catholic Marian teaching and veneration.

The first of these principles is the acceptance of the whole reality of Jesus the Christ. You must hold that Jesus Christ is the Holy One of God, the Son of God incarnated as true flesh, true man. You also must believe that the Incarnation does not hold implications for only that one moment in time when the eternal God binds himself perpetually to His creation by means of the conception of Jesus. You must understand that the Incarnation is a visitation of the Eternal God that extends through the consummation of the world and into timelessness. God, to put it plainly, works through his creation in totum, that is, God relates to humanity through all the things that are most purely and surely human. The Father’s only-begotten Son becomes man through a woman. This same Son works miracles and salvation through physical objects, through matter: mud and saliva to cure blindness, his own garments to cure a hemorrhage, water to make wine, casting demons into swine, raising a little girl from the dead with his touch, bestowing the Holy Spirit by his breath, enacting salvation through his blood. It is the whole Christ and his complete Incarnation, in time and now in eternity, that must be upheld in all instances of belief, lest one relapse into some Christian neo-gnostic myth. The one who casts an unflinching eye Christ’s on full divinity and humanity will not for long be blind to the Incarnation’s implications for Mary’s life and function in salvation.

Karl Rahner, in one of his more lucid moments, writes: “Mary is only intelligible in terms of Christ. If someone who does not hold with the Catholic faith that the Word of God became man in Adam’s flesh so that the world might be taken up redemptively into the life of God, he can have no understanding of Catholic dogma about Mary either. It may be said that a sense of Marian dogma is an indication of whether Christological dogma is being taken really seriously.”

The second principle that must be upheld is the authority of the scriptures. And I’m not just talking about a few token verses, which Answering Catholicism and Gospel Light Ministries cling to while forgetting many others (biblical amnesia is a tragic affliction). I’m talking about the entire Bible in all its parts. One thing that has kept me Catholic—and an excited Catholic at that!—is that Catholicism promotes an undying, unyielding commitment to tota scriptura (by the whole scripture). If you are not willing to talk about the Bible from Genesis to Revelation and all pages in between, then you will not be in any position to portray Catholic teaching on Mary as unbiblical.

In sum: When we start talking Mary, we must first have our facts straight on Jesus the Christ and the whole Bible.

And now it’s time to open up that divine book!

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