Mary; June 23, 2018

Luke 11:27-28 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.”
He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

In reading this, Catholic liturgy immediately comes to mind. Several times a year I attend early mass at a church where a friend of mine is the priest, and the focus on Mary is always disturbing, or at least saddening. Quoting Luke 1:28 seems foundational to everything else, but here Jesus is directly countering that focus. Mary was indeed a magnificent example of faith for us all, but that was because of her choices, her obedience. Jesus is saying that we can receive equal blessings with her through making those same choices to trust and obey. Two titles given to Mary are especially disturbing to me: “Mother of God,” and “Queen of Heaven.” This passage directly touches on the “Mother of God” title. Mary was indeed the mother of Jesus’ physical, human body. However, He was pre-existent as God before Creation, so she could not be the mother of His divinity. The title, “Queen of Heaven,” is almost more disturbing, because its roots are in the worship of Ashtoreth, the goddess of the Sidonians (1 Kings 11:5 and more) who was called by that title. Jeremiah used that title in condemning the idolatry of his day. There was a long period when Catholic believers were actively discouraged from reading the Bible for themselves, and this sort of thing is the result. Thankfully that has changed, and there are many Catholics with an active, personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord, but the liturgy is unfortunate to say the least. We need to seek the blessing of hearing the Word of God and obeying it.

Growing up in a thoroughly Baptist household, I had very little awareness of Catholic theology. Since coming to Omura I have had a number of Catholic friends, some of them very close. One Augustinian friar (who refers to Martin Luther as “Great Senior,” since Luther was of that order) was and is a particularly close friend. He told me that official Catholic dogma is that Mary is never to be worshiped, but only greatly respected. However, he conceded that there is a lot of that going on in practical terms. I have had to realize that Jesus is the issue, not Mary, and accept as brothers and sisters those who cling to Jesus as the only Savior and Lord, regardless of how much junk there might be in their traditions. It makes me think about how much junk there might be in the Baptist tradition! I need to focus on the Word of God and not the traditions of men. (Mark 7:8)

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You also for my Catholic brothers and sisters. I pray that Your truth would indeed set us all free from the deceptions of the enemy, so that we may be fully obedient and pleasing to You, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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