Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Pope and Mary

(continuing from the last post)
The middle questions don't concern me too much. I did want to analyze the last one:
"At the cross we witness a poignant dialogue between Jesus and his mother in which Jesus says to Mary: 'Behold your son”, and to John, 'Behold your mother.'"
This is entry into what could cause a big debate on the role of Mary. But it starts out well:
"These words of Jesus are, above all, a very human act. We see Jesus as a true man who makes a human act, an act of love for His mother, entrusting the mother to the young John so that she might be safe. A woman living alone in the East at that time was an impossible situation. He entrusts his mother to this young man and to this young man he gives his mother, therefore Jesus actually acts as a human with a deeply human sentiment. This seems very beautiful to me, very important, that before any theology we see in this act the true humanity of Jesus, his true humanism."
That is very true. The first application is always to those people at that time, in that context. We must cross connect many different things to go further.

But he goes on:
"it is also true that this Mother expresses the Church. We cannot be Christians alone, following a Christianity based on our own ideas. The Mother is the image of the Church, the Mother Church, and entrusting ourselves to Mary means we must also entrust ourselves to the Church"
Of course, this is not new. The Eastern Orthodox are even more extreme in their Mariology (if that is imaginable). It is of course, very hard to understand Biblically. Nowhere in the Bible is the Church referred to as Mother. In fact, nowhere is there talk of a "Church" that is separate from either a local body of Christians or all Christians everywhere - that is, people are the church. Thus, "the church at Corinth" refers to "the called out ones of Corinth" or "the saints at Corinth" (where every believer is a "saint" - holy, set apart to God).

The word "mother" is used 8 times from Romans to Revelation:
  1. Romans 16:13 - this is in the final salutation, where Paul says hi to Rufus' mother
  2. Galatians 1:15 - Paul refers to God's purpose for him, "from his mother's womb"
  3. Galatians 4:26 - "Jerusalem is the mother of us all" (as opposed to Hagar). This is part of a great exposition on Sarah and Hagar - the mother of freedom, and the mother of slavery. Here, Hagar represents the burden of the Law, while Sarah represents the freedom of grace (which is ironic, since it was a descendant of Sarah's child who received the Law).
  4. Ephesians 5:31 - "For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother"
  5. Ephesians 6:2 - "Honor thy father and mother"
  6. 2 Timothy 1:5 - referring to Timothy's faithful mother
  7. Hebrews 7:3 - "without father or mother" (referring to Melchizedek, who is a type of Jesus)
  8. Revelation 17:5 - "Mystery Babylon the mother of harlots"
There are other references ("mothers", "daughter(s)", "nurse"), but they don't fit. For example, 1 Peter 3:6 says that faithful Christian women are the daughters of Sarah. 2 Corinthians 6:18 says we are sons and daughters of God the Father.

1 comment:

TheDen said...


I’m a little unclear where the hangup is. Is it to the Pope’s term of “Mother Church”?

The Biblical reference to this would be in Ephesians 5. As Christ is the groom and the Church is the bride, then we would be the children of the Church. At our Baptism, we are reborn. We are “Reborn” in the Church and the Church would be our mother. The Church is feminine as she is the bride who “receives” from the groom (Jesus Christ) and nourishes her children. So, from the “Mother” we are fed nourishment received from Christ and receive eternal life through His Body. This is all Biblical.

Mary being the “Mother of the Church” is because the Church is united to Christ in His Body. As we are united to Christ and Mary is His mother, then she is also our mother and thus the “Mother of the Church.” Additionally, if we love Christ, our place would be at the foot of the cross like John. Note: of the 12, they all fled and went into hiding EXCEPT John. We, as Christians must follow John’s lead. If Jesus were dying, where would we be? Would we be deny Him like Peter? Would we betray Him with our sins like Judas? Would we be in hiding like the other 9? Or would we be at the foot of the cross like John?

Ideally, we should place ourselves at the foot of the cross. We should love Him like John does. With that love, Jesus entrusts Mary to our care and she becomes our mother as well. This is what the Pope references in his answer.