Friday, August 15, 2014

If the Lord really valued Mary. . .

It was a quip.  It was meant as a joke -- well, sort of.  "If the Lord really valued Mary, He would have made her an Apostle!"  People laughed.  But why?

The Blessed Virgin is in no confusion about this.  As the Magnificat sings she sees the privilege of Theotokos (Mother of God) as deep and profound grace for which she is completely unworthy.  But we are no longer so sure.  Motherhood is not the virtuous choice it once was.  Neither is betrothal.  Neither is virginity.  In fact, our age considers children pretty much burdens (at worst) and a choice (at best).  Hardly gifts from God that would make us desire a quiver full of them, eh?!

What do we call those who serve us as maids, cooks, housekeepers, etc...?  Domestics.  It is a term largely of derision today.  It expects that those on the lowest ladder of immigrant status (legal or illegal) will take up these jobs (they are, in our modern parlance, almost unworthy of being called vocations).  Furthermore, we will pay them no more than minimum wage and an occasional buck in tip here and there.

The Blessed Virgin is delighted to be a domestic, to serve as mother to the Son of God, wife of Joseph, and the example of servant love for her family.  That is both why she is so confusing to us as well as so virtuous.  We are modern people.  We live in a modern world.  Women can do so much more.... More than give birth to and mother the Son of the Most High God????  Many Christians would not hesitate to say "of course."  And therein lies our confusion on this Day of Blessed Mary, Mother of our Lord.  If we would honor her, we must honor her vocation as mother, woman of the house, and wife of her husband.  All of this was her vocation for which she was delighted and in which she found God's mercy and grace.

The West (at least in Rome) has decided she was unworthy of death and so preserved from decay (like Enoch and Elijah).  She was assumed.  The East may have opinions about this but calls this her Dormition (her falling asleep day).  We Lutherans are so skittish about the Blessed Virgin that it is the most we can stomach to call her Mary, Mother of our Lord.  Mary, Virgin Mother and whom the generations shall forever call Blessed, is honored (and rightly so) for her faith, her faithfulness, her consent to the Lord's will, her delight in that will, and her stalwart devotion to the Son who was born also her Savior.

The more we denigrate the noble vocation of mother and the more we find marriage an unnecessary option, the harder it will be for us to know what to do with this woman.  Honored by the Lord with the blessed vocation as mother of His Son, she is revered above all other saints.  Yet some still grouse that such is not honor enough.  Better it would be to have been named an apostle or a bishop or a priest.  What foolishness!  Truth to be told, if any man is worth his salt he is quietly jealous of Mary, blessed Virgin.  For she was given what none other has been.  It is her great humility in seeing this honor for what it was and for trusting in the Word of the Lord when it all seemed completely impossible that makes her the mother of all the faithful.  For in consenting to and in becoming the Mother of our Lord, she has become the mother of all Christians.  May we learn to honor her vocation, to delight in her faith, and to follow her as she followed Christ.

My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded : the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.



John Joseph Flanagan said...

I was a Catholic for many years, and at around 40 years old left the church and followed the LCMS, and later attended reformed churches, a Bible church, a Baptist church, then an Orthodox Presbyterian church before returning to the LCMS. During this time, I have made the Bible reading a daily activity, and felt often conflicted over the various doctrines of each denomination, but since I am not confused about the fundamentals, being born again, saved by grace alone, I can say I have great faith in God and a personal relationship with Jesus which transcends theological disputations. But regarding Mary, I have felt many Protestants have failed to respect and revere her due to the extremes of Catholicism in worshipping her, and even by Papal ordinance designating her a co-redemptress with Christ. Mary, God's humble servant, never sought such acclaim, and we should always remember that.

ginnie said...

Thank you for this article. Lutherans are so confused regarding Mary, but you have explained it with great humility and clarity.

Unknown said...

No Catholics worship Mary. How insulting.

Dixie said...

The West (at least in Rome) has decided she was unworthy of death and so preserved from decay (like Enoch and Elijah). She was assumed.

Just a point of clarification, The Catholic Church has no dogmatic teaching that Mary did not die but was assumed into heaven prior to death. Some Catholics do hold that opinion but it is not the official teaching of the Catholic Church. See this interesting letter from JPII:

As you suggest, the Orthodox celebrate her repose and her bodily translation (or assumption) into heaven. The Dormition feast also celebrates a fundamental dogma of the Christian faith—the Resurrection of the body