Tag Archives: Mary

The Perpetual Virginity of Mary Pt. 2

In my last post, I gave an abbreviated version of three of the eight reasons I give for Mary’s perpetual virginity in my book, Behold Your Mother: A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines. Because I have received tons of questions on this over the years, I thought I would provide three more abbreviated reasons for the perpetual virginity of Mary in this post.

Reason Four: Mary Was Consecrated to the Father of Her Son

As I said in my last post, Mary entered into a nuptial relationship with the Holy Spirit. The marriage between Mary and the Holy Spirit and that between Mary and Joseph are not incompatible, because they are of entirely different orders—like my own marriage to my wife, Valerie, does not contradict each of the two of us having a truly nuptial relationship with the Lord.

However, unlike all Christians’ “nuptial” relationship with the Lord, in the case of Mary and the Holy Spirit, a child was conceived. “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). In a unique and unrepeatable fashion, the two orders intersect. Thus, Mary’s consecration to God for the purpose of the Incarnation brings with it biblical challenges.

In my last post, I mentioned how Joseph and Mary’s betrothal to each other was equal to a legal spousal contract, according to Scripture. The word for betrothed in Hebrew is kiddush, which is derived from the Hebrew word kadash, meaning “holy” or “consecrated.” This betrothal was considered a sacred event binding spouses to each other. It was because of this understanding of the sacredness of the bond of matrimony that adultery was considered such a serious sin. Marriage was a consecrated state. Desecrating this state by adultery left a woman defiled and was punishable by death or, in some circumstances, left her unfit to return to conjugal relations with her husband. (This seems odd to us today, but things were different among the ancient, tribal people with whom our Lord was dealing.)

The latter cases where a desecration of a marriage left women unfit to return to relations with their husbands are of particular interest to us now. We see an example of this in 2 Samuel. Absalom, one of David’s sons, tried to usurp the throne of his father by, among other things, sleeping with ten of David’s concubines:

Ahithophel said to Absalom, “Go in to your father’s concubines, whom he has left to keep the house; and all Israel will hear that you have made yourself odious to your father, and the hands of all who are with you will be strengthened.”. . . [A]nd Absalom went in to his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel (16:21-22).

Later, when Absolam’s attempted coup d’état failed and he was killed, King David did not forget his concubines. Scripture tells us David “took the ten concubines, whom he had left to care for the house, and put them in a house under guard, and provided for them, but did not go in to them. So they were shut up until the day of their death, living as if in widowhood” (20:3).

David would not have conjugal relations with these ten concubines again because they were “defiled” by Absalom. But he did have the responsibility to care for them and protect them after Absalom’s death, because he (Absalom) could no longer care for them. And they were David’s concubines, so he had a real responsibility for their well being.

It is hard for us to fathom this in the twenty-first century. How could King David and St. Joseph have the responsibility to care for their wives but not be able to have conjugal relations with them? We have to understand this through the revelation given to us in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jeremiah 3:1 reveal to us that a woman who was divorced by her husband and then wedded to another could never return to her former husband even if her new husband were to die. Deuteronomy 24:4 declares:

Then her former husband, who sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring guilt upon the land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.

It was the sexual bond that was evidently the cause of the “defilement” in the relationship. Hence, King David could receive his concubines into his home after they were “defiled” by Absalom, but he could never have conjugal relations with them again.

In Jeremiah 3:1, God refers to this law when he speaks metaphorically of his relationship with Israel:

“If a man divorces his wife and she goes from him and becomes another’s wife, will he return to her? Would not that land be greatly polluted? You have played the harlot with many lovers; and would you return to me?” says the Lord.

Very much rooted in this Old Testament understanding, the Talmud taught divorce to be mandatory in the case of an espoused woman who became pregnant by another. The espoused woman who conceived by another would then belong to that other and could never return to her former husband. The ancient rabbis said:

A woman made pregnant by a former husband and a woman who was giving suck to a child by another husband . . . do not receive the marriage contract. . . . A man should not marry a woman made pregnant by an earlier husband or giving suck to a child born to an earlier husband, and if she married under such conditions, he must put her away and never remarry her (Neusner, Babylonian Talmud, vol. 11, 123).

When we take into account the Old Testament background and ancient Hebrew culture, we understand Matthew 1 and the situation with the Holy Family. In Joseph’s mind, once she was pregnant, Mary would have belonged to the father of the child within her. His choices were either to expose her publicly and endanger her to mob violence or to do what we see he actually resolved to do in Matthew 1:19: divorce her quietly. But notice what Scripture tells us in verses 20 and 21:

But as [Joseph] considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”

When the angel told Joseph that Mary’s child was conceived of the Holy Spirit, he knew what was required of him. Just as we saw with King David in 2 Samuel 20:3, Joseph knew that he was to take his wife into his home and care for her, though he could never have conjugal relations with her. According to Scripture and ancient Jewish tradition, Mary belonged to the father of her child—the Holy Spirit. However, the Holy Spirit could not be the protector that Mary needed. The Holy Spirit could not sign legal documents and be Mary’s legal spouse. But Joseph was ready and willing—just man that he was—to care for Mary as his lawfully wedded spouse.

Reason Five: Mary is the Temple Gate

In Ezekiel 44:1-2, the prophet was given a vision of the holiness of “the gate” of the temple, which would be fulfilled in the perpetual virginity of Mary:

Then he brought me back to the outer gate of the sanctuary, which faces east; and it was shut. And he said to me, “This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the Lord, the God of Israel has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut.”

No Christian would deny that in the New Testament Jesus is revealed to be the fulfillment of the temple. In John 2:19, when Jesus said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” the Jews thought he was speaking of the enormous stone edifice that stood in Jerusalem. But, as John tells us two verses later, he was actually speaking of his own body. So if Christ is the prophetic temple of Ezekiel 44 into which God himself has entered for our salvation, who or what is this prophetic gate that is the conduit for God to enter into his temple?

Mary is the natural fulfillment. She is the gate through which not just a spiritual presence of God has passed but God in the flesh. How much more would the New Testament gate remain forever closed? St. Jerome commented on this text in the fourth century:

Only Christ opened the closed doors of the virginal womb, which continued to remain closed, however. This is the closed eastern gate, through which only the high priest may enter and exit and which nevertheless is always closed (Against the Pelagians, 2,4).

Reason Six: Mary is the untouchable Ark

According to multiple parallel texts in Scripture, Mary is depicted as the New Testament Ark of the Covenant. The encounter of Mary and Elizabeth in Luke 1:39-45, shortly after Mary conceived Jesus at the Annunciation, is clear evidence of this.

First, take note of Elizabeth’s exclamation when Mary entered her home and greeted her: “And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” This refers back to 2 Samuel 6:9 where the Old Testament “type” of Mary—the Ark of the Covenant—was carried into the presence of King David. He said, “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?” The ark remained there three months. In a New Testament fulfillment of the type, Luke 1 records that Elizabeth gave Mary an identical greeting, and that Mary remained with Elizabeth for three months.

According to Hebrews 9:4, the Ark of the Covenant bore the Ten Commandments, a small amount of manna, and the staff of Aaron the high priest. All of these were types of our Lord. According to John 6:31-33, Jesus is the true manna. According to Hebrews 3:1, Jesus is our true high priest. In Hebrew, the Ten Commandments can be referred to as the ten words (dabar in Hebrew). Jesus is the word made flesh, according to John 1:14.

According to the Old Testament, no one except the high priest could touch the ark or even look inside it. If anyone else touched or looked inside the ark, the punishment was death. The Levites in charge of the ark knew all too well that their charge was to protect but that they could not look inside and they could not touch.

If this was the case for the Old Testament type, which, according to Hebrews 10:1, is no more than a shadow of the true New Testament fulfillment, then it would seem fitting that Mary would remain “untouched” by Joseph as well. When we understand this, we understand why great saints such as Jerome and Epiphanius would have been so indignant when they encountered the first heretics to posit even the possibility that Joseph could have had conjugal relations with Mary. This was absolutely foreign to the Christian consciousness of the first four centuries of the Christian era.

Perhaps in a future post, I will discuss the unanimity among the Fathers of the Church on this matter. For the first Christians, this was a no-brainer.

If you enjoyed this and you would like to learn more, click here.

Truth and Consequences

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, in paragraph 2051, that the infallible teaching authority of the Church extends to “all the elements of doctrine:”

The infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors extends to all the elements of doctrine, including moral doctrine, without which the saving truths of the faith cannot be preserved, expounded, or observed.

The reason for this should be obvious to Catholics. Without this great gift of an infallible teaching authority, we would be, as St. Paul says in Eph. 4:14, “… children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the cunning of men, by their craftiness in deceitful wiles.” Yet, too many Catholics take for granted the great gift of the Magisterium of the Bishops in union with the Bishop of Rome that has safeguarded the truth of the Faith for 2,000 years. In fact, there is no human way to explain the reality of “one Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph. 4:5) that we have experienced in the Catholic Church for two millennia apart from this supernatural gift. But perhaps even fewer of us consider some of the consequences that have come as a result of the absence of this great gift.

In my DVD, Truth and Consequences, I gather multiple examples of what happens when you don’t have the infallible gift of what the Catechism calls “the [infallible] Magisterium of the Pastors.” by way of the real-life teachings of the sons and daughters of the “reformation.” I will toss out three here for us to consider:

Denying Mary, Mother of God

I can remember when the thought of believing Mary to be Mother of God was absolutely crazy to me when I was Protestant. And on the surface, one can perhaps understand the problem: If we say Mary is “the Mother of God” wouldn’t she have to be God? If a dog begets a dog, a cat begets a cat, would not Mary have to be God in order to give birth to God?

In truth? Not at all.

The error here is rooted in a failure to understand that Mary was not the source of Jesus’ divinity, nor was she the source of his human soul. She was merely the source of his Jesus’ body. But that does not mean she was and is not his mother because she did not give birth to a body, a soul, a nature, or even two natures; she gave birth to person, and that person is God. Therefore, Mary is the Mother of God.

But more fundamentally here, we have to ask this question to those who deny Mary is the Mother of God: “If you deny Mary is the Mother of God, who is Jesus?” As I point out in my book, Behold Your Mother – A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines, Dr. Walter Martin gives us an example of what happens when you get this wrong on page 103 of his classic, Kingdom of the Cults (1977 edition):

… there cannot be any such thing as eternal Sonship, for there is a logical contradiction of terminology due to the fact that the word “Son” predicates time and the involvement of creativity. Christ, the Scripture tells us, as the Logos, is timeless, “… the Word was in the beginning” not the Son!

Think about this: In the process of denying Mary to be Mother of God, Dr. Martin lost Jesus. Jesus is no longer the eternal Son. But it gets worse, if that is possible. He also says on that same page:

The term Father incidentally never carries the descriptive adjective “eternal” in Scripture… the words Father and Son are purely functional…

Now he lost the Father. The immediate question arises: Who, then, is God in eternity before there was a creation? I suppose we would have to call God, “The Blah, the Word and the Holy Spirit!”

Double Predestination

In their 1997 book, What Unites Presbyterians, Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick and William Hopper (Kirkpatrick was, at the time, the highest ranking staff member, “the stated Clerk” as they call it, of the Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., the largest Presbyterian body in the United States), on page 17, state:

Presbyterians have endorsed this conviction (Double Predestination), but with Calvin we have always had trouble with it for two reasons: First, if God predestines every person, and not all are called, elected, or predestined for salvation, then God has predestined some persons to Hell or eternal damnation. Second, if God has determined the ultimate fate of all persons, then the individual has no power to make any important decisions.

Presbyterians have learned to believe, also, in free will, realizing that these two doctrines are logically impossible to hold at the same time, but that each is free as taught in the Westminster Confession.

Those persons who can with a clear conscience accept what they are taught, regardless of apparent inconsistencies, are in some ways better off than those who think. It is almost unfortunate that Presbyterians are a thinking people…

There is always a creative tension between these two because we DO believe both even when we know that they are logically inconsistent.

The Catholic Response can be found in Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 22 (the Pastoral Constitution on the Church), para. 5:

For, since Christ died for all men, and since the ultimate vocation of man is in fact one, and divine, we ought to believe that the Holy Spirit in a manner known only to God offers to every man the possibility of being associated with this paschal mystery…

I Tim. 2:4 tells us God positively wills “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth,” while II Peter 3:9 tells us God does not will “that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

To put it simply: In order to go to Hell, the Catholic Church teaches, a person must reject God’s salvific will for him.

I am truly grateful to God that the Catholic Church never asks me to park my brains on the doorstep before I enter the Church.

Abortion

“Thou shalt not kill” is not a Catholic only club. Pope St. John Paul II tells us, when it comes to abortion, in Para. 60 of Evangelium Vitae:

But in fact, “from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and… modern genetic science offers clear confirmation…”

Indeed, it is so clear. And when we consider that the moral law is something that is knowable, at least in theory, by the light of natural reason alone, apart from revelation (though God gives us revelation so that the moral law can be known with facility, certainty, and without the admixture of error), it was all the more disturbing to me that when I was doing the research for Truth and Consequences, I found 18 denominations that teach abortion to be licit in at least some circumstances. And my research was in no way exhaustive. Due to the limits of a blog post, I will cite just half of them here:

1. The Salvation Army

From their international website:

… termination can occur only when: Carrying the pregnancy further seriously threatens the life of the mother; or Reliable diagnostic procedures have identified a foetal abnormality considered incompatible with survival for more than a very brief postnatal period.

In addition, rape and incest are brutal acts of dominance violating women physically and emotionally. This situation represents a special case for the consideration of termination as the violation may be compounded by the continuation of the pregnancy.

2. The Mormons (LDS)

In the February 1973 edition of: “The Priesthood Bulletin,” the First Presidency (Spencer W. Kimball, N. Eldon Tanner, Marion G. Romney), p. 1-2:

The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother.”

Got to give the “prophet” credit, he held out for 1 month after Roe vs. Wade!

3. The United Church of Christ

If you are not familiar with this sect, just remember Rev. Jeremiah Wright and “Obama’s Church.” That’s them!

This sect has supported the legalization of abortion at least since 1973. They are an official member of the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.” They are so radical that they joined with NARAL (the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) in supporting President Clinton’s veto of the ban on partial birth abortion in 1996 and 1997.

4. The American Baptist Churches

The General Board of American Baptist Churches affirmed that this matter is up to the individual in 1988 and reaffirmed it in 1994.

5. The Southern Baptist Convention

The largest Baptism denomination in the U.S. declared in 1971 that Southern Baptists should “work for legislation that will allow the possibility of abortion under such conditions as rape, incest, clear evidence of severe fetal deformity, and carefully ascertained evidence of the likelihood of damage to the emotional, mental, and physical health of the mother.”

Thank God, they back-pedaled on that in 1980 and declared abortion to be permissible only “to save the life of the mother.” But when you okay murder in any cases, you’re not just on a “slippery slope;” you’ve slid to the bottom of it.

6. Presbyterian Church (USA)

This is the largest Presbyterian body in the United States. They condemned abortion outright in 1965. In 1970, a study report concluded that abortion could well be a “help” in cases of unwanted pregnancies.

Really? A “help?”

By 1983, the Presbyterian Church USA General Assembly adopted an official policy in favor of abortion calling it a “stewardship responsibility.” Today, they are official members of the “Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights.” In 1992, the General Assembly stated “there is a basis in our tradition not only for a woman’s difficult choice for abortion, but also for the preservation of the lives of the unborn…”

In that same year, the Assembly also declared: “Possible justifying circumstances [for abortion] would include medical indications of severe physical or mental deformity, conception as a result of rape or incest, or conditions under which the physical or mental health of either woman or child would be gravely threatened.”

7. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)

The ELCA, the largest Lutheran body in the United States, in 1990, adopted a statement that declared abortion to be acceptable in cases of danger to mother’s life, extreme fetal deformity incompatible with life, and in cases of rape and incest. They also declared that they neither support nor oppose abortion-restricting legislation. In 1997, they voted down a proposal to restrict abortion funding to cases of rape, incest, life of the mother. As a result, ELCA now funds elective abortions in their health care coverage and offers elective abortion in some Lutheran-affiliated hospitals. Today, on their website, the ELCA declares, in a 1991 statement of faith declared by a Church-wide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:

A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born, nor does a pregnant woman have an absolute right to terminate a pregnancy.

I suppose the truth is found somewhere in-between?

8. The United Methodist Church

The largest Methodist body in the United States, they helped organize and are members of “The Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights,” founded in 1973 and re-named “The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights” in 1993.

How euphemistic of them!

Along with the United Church of Christ, this denomination officially joined NARAL in supporting President Clinton’s veto of the Partial Abortion Ban in 1996 and 1997. Their “Book of Discipline” remains pro-abortion to this day.

9. The Episcopal Church

In 1958 they issued a strongly pro-life statement. However, at their 1967 General Convention they officially supported pro-abortion legislation for the first time. They stated abortion to be morally acceptable in cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity, or danger to the physical or mental health of the mother. In 1994, the 71st General Convention expressed:

… unequivocal opposition to any… action… that [would] abridge the right of a woman to reach an informed decision about the termination of her pregnancy, or that would limit the access of a woman to a safe means of acting upon her decision.

In 1997, at their 72nd Convention, they expressed their support of partial birth abortion, but only in what they called “extreme situations.”

Their words speak for themselves.

In a future blog post, I will cite some examples among the 25 denominations I found that now support homosexual unions mimicking marriage. Stay tuned!

These are just some of the consequences that follow when you don’t have “the infallibility of the Magisterium of the Pastors” in union with the Bishop of Rome.

Queen of Heaven?

Pope Pius XII effectively summarized the core reasons Christians ought to honor Mary with the title of Queen of Heaven and Earth:

According to ancient tradition and the sacred liturgy the main principle on which the royal dignity of Mary rests is without doubt her divine motherhood. In holy writ, concerning the son whom Mary will conceive, we read this sentence: “He shall be called the son of the most high, and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end,” and in addition Mary is called “Mother of the Lord,” from this it is easily concluded that she is a queen, since she bore a son who, at the very moment of his conception, because of the hypostatic union of the human nature with the Word, was also as man, king and lord of all things. So with complete justice St. John Damascene could write: “When she became mother of the creator, she truly became queen of every creature.” Likewise, it can be said that the heavenly voice of the Archangel Gabriel was the first to proclaim Mary’s royal office (Ad Caeli Reginam, 34).

In my next blog post, I will give more positive reasons for faith in Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth, but many Protestants I speak to cannot get past one biblical text from the Old Testament that casts a shadow over this topic like none other. In Roman Catholics and Evangelicals—Agreements and Differences, Norman Geisler and Ralph MacKenzie present that text along with their commentary that represents the misguided faith of millions. And that text is Jeremiah 7:18:

Do you not see what they are doing in the streets of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, to provoke me to anger.

Geisler and MacKenzie comment:

 To call Mary “Queen of Heaven,” knowing that this very phrase comes from an old pagan idolatrous cult condemned in the Bible (cf. Jer. 7:18), only invites the charge of Mariolatry. And Mariolatry is idolatry (p. 322).

I can certainly sympathize with their thinking here. I once thought the same. But the truth is: this text has absolutely nothing to do with the Blessed Mother as Queen of Heaven for at least three reasons:

  1. Jeremiah here condemns the adoration of the Mesopotamian goddess Astarte (see Raymond Brown, S.S., Joseph Fitzmeyer, S.J., Roland E. Murphy, editors, The Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice-Hall, Inc., Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1968, p. 310).  She is in no way related to Mary. In fact, “she” did not and does not exist in reality. Mary, on the other hand, was a real historical person who was—and is—a queen by virtue of the fact that her son was—and is—the king.
  2. Jeremiah condemned offering sacrifice to “the queen of heaven.” In Scripture, we have many examples of the proper way we should honor great members of the kingdom of God. We give “double honor” to “elders who rule well” in the Church (1 Tim. 5:17). St. Paul tells us we should “esteem very highly” those who are “over [us] in the Lord” (1 Thess. 5:12-13). We sing praises to great members of the family of God who have gone before us (Psalm 45:17). We bow down to them with reverence (1 Kings 2:19). We carry out the work of the Lord in their names (Matt. 10:40-42, DRV), and more. But there is one thing we ought never to do: offer sacrifice to them. Offering sacrifice is tantamount to the adoration that is due God alone. And this is precisely what Jeremiah was condemning. The Catholic Church does not teach—and has never taught—that we should adore Mary (see CCC 2110-2114; Lumen Gentium 66-67; CCC 971). Catholics offer sacrifice exclusively to God.
  3. To the Evangelical and Fundamentalist, the mere fact that worshipping someone called “queen of heaven” is condemned in Jeremiah 7 eliminates the possibility of      Mary being the true Queen of Heaven and Earth. This simply does not follow. The existence of a counterfeit queen does not mean there can’t be an authentic one. This reasoning followed to its logical end would lead to abandoning the entire Christian Faith! We could not have a Bible because Hinduism, Islam, and many other false religions have “holy books.” We could not call Jesus Son of God because Zeus and Hera had Apollo, Isis and Osiris had Horus, etc. The fact that there was a false “queen of heaven” worshipped in ancient Mesopotamia does not negate the reality of the true queen who is honored as such in the kingdom of God.

If you enjoyed this post, click here for much more.

 

The Assumption of Mary

Tomorrow we celebrate the great Feast of the Assumption of Mary. It is a time of rejoicing in the Catholic Church. But for many Christians, this celebration is wrong-headed. In fact, for some it is downright blasphemous. And there are two texts of Scripture most commonly used to “prove” the point:

1. John 3:13:

No one has ascended up to heaven, but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.

If “no man” has ascended into heaven, wouldn’t that include the Blessed Virgin Mary?

2. I Cor. 15:22-23:

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

If no one except Christ will be resurrected bodily before the Second Coming of Christ, would that not eliminate the possibility of Mary having been bodily assumed into heaven?

The Catholic response

John 3:13 does not eliminate the possibility of the Assumption of Mary for four reasons.

1. St. John was quoting the actual words our Lord spoke when he wrote, “No one has ascended into heaven, but . . . the Son of man.” Jesus was merely saying that no one had ascended into heaven by the time he made that statement. That was long before the Assumption of Mary.

2. Jesus cannot be saying that no one else will ever be taken to heaven. If that is the case, then what is all this Christianity stuff about? You know, heaven and all.

3. If one interprets John 3:13 as speaking about Christ uniquely ascending to heaven, that would be acceptable. We would then have to ask the question: what is it about Jesus’ ascension that is unique? Well, the fact that he ascended is unique. Mary did not ascend to heaven. She was assumed. There is a big difference. Jesus ascended by his own divine power as he prophesied he would in John 2:19-21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up . . . he spoke of the temple of his body.” Mary was powerless to raise herself to heaven; she had to be assumed. The same could be said of all Christians. Jesus raised himself from the dead. Christians will be entirely passive when it comes to their collective “resurrection.”

4. St. John is demonstrating the divinity of Christ in John 3:13. Historically, we know St. John was writing against his archenemy, the heretic Cerinthus, who denied the divinity of Christ (according to, for example, St. Irenaeus, and Eusebius of Caesarea). St. John quotes these words from Jesus to demonstrate that the Savior “descended” from heaven and was both in heaven and on Earth as the “only begotten Son” (cf. 3:16) sharing his Father’s nature (cf. 5:17-18). Thus, he was truly God. St. John also emphasizes that even while “the Son of Man” walked the Earth with his disciples in Galilee, he possessed the beatific vision in his human nature. In that sense, his human nature (Son of Man) had already “ascended” into heaven inasmuch as it possessed the beatific vision, which is at the core of what heaven is. That is John’s theme in the text, not whether someone years after Christ could be assumed into heaven or not.

I Cor. 15:22-23:

1. We must remember that there are sometimes exceptions to general theological norms in Scripture. For example, consider Matt. 3:5-6: “Then went out to [St. John the Baptist] Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan, and they were baptized by him.” We know that “all” here does not mean “all” in a strict sense because we know, at least, Herod, Herodias, and her daughter, were exceptions to this verse (See Matt. 14:1-11). They conspired to put St. John to death. Not the best candidates for baptism! Moreover, man of the Pharisees and Sadducees are explicitly said to have “not… been baptized by him” in Luke 7:30.

The bottom line: There are exceptions to Matt. 3:5-6. St. John the Baptist did not baptize everyone in “Jerusalem, Judea and the region around Jordan.” So Mary could be (and is, as we will see below) an exception to I Cor. 15:22-23.

2. There are exceptions to other general norms specifically laid out as true for “all” in Scripture. Hebrews 9:27 declares, “It is appointed for men to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Yet we see exceptions to this norm many places in Scripture by way of resurrections from the dead. Not only do we have Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, St. Peter and St. Paul raising the dead in Scripture, but after Jesus’ Resurrection, “the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and [came] out of the tombs” (Matt. 27:52-53). These folks obviously did not “die once.” They presumably died at least twice!

3. We have examples of other “assumptions” in Scripture. Both Enoch (cf. Gen. 5:24) and Elijah were taken up “into heaven” (II Kings 2:11) in a manner quite out of the ordinary. And so are the “two witnesses” of Revelation 11:3-13. Why couldn’t God do this with Mary?

4. We know that Mary is an exception to the “norm” of I Cor. 15:22-23 because she is depicted as having been assumed into heaven in Rev. 12. “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun . . . she was with child . . . and . . . brought forth a male child [Jesus], one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (12:1-5). Who was the woman who gave birth to Jesus? Mary! And there she is in heaven!

Is the woman of Revelation 12 Mary?

Many will object at this point and deny “the woman” of Revelation 12 is Mary. They will claim it is either the Church, or, as do dispensationalists, they will claim it is the Israel of old.

The Church acknowledges Scripture to have a polyvalent nature. In other words, there can be many levels of meaning to the various texts of Scripture. So, are there many levels of meaning to Rev. 12? Absolutely! Israel is often depicted as the Lord’s bride in the Old Testament (cf. Song of Solomon, Jer. 3:1, etc.). So there is precedent to refer to Israel as “the woman.” And Jesus was born out of Israel.

Moreover, the Book of Revelation depicts the New Covenant Church as “the bride of Christ” and “the New Jerusalem” (cf. Rev. 21:2). “The woman” of Revelation 12 is also depicted as continuing to beget children to this day and these children are revealed to be all “who keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (vs. 17). The Church certainly fits this description.

In fact, we argue as Catholics “the woman” to represent the people of God down through the centuries, whether Old Covenant Israel or the New Covenant Church, “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16), at least, in one sense.

The first and literal sense

All we have said about “the woman” of Revelation 12 representing the people of God down through the millennia of time does not diminish in any way the first and literal sense of the text as representing Mary. In fact, there are at least four reasons why one cannot escape including Mary when exegeting Revelation 12 and specifically the identity of “the woman.”

1. “The woman” in Rev. 12 “brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with an iron rod: and her son was taken up to God, and to his throne.” This child is obviously Jesus. If we begin on the literal level, there is no doubt that Mary is the one who “brought forth” Jesus.

2. Though we could discover many spiritual levels of meaning for the flight of “the woman” in 12:6, 14, Mary and the Holy Family literally fled into Egypt in Matt. 2:13-15 with divine assistance.

3. Mary is referred to prophetically as “woman” in Gen. 3:15, Jer. 31:22, and by Jesus as the same in John 2:4 and 19:26. Especially considering the same apostle, John, wrote the Gospel of John and the book of Revelation, it is no stretch to say St. John would have had Mary in mind when he used the familiar term “the woman” as the descriptor of the Lady of the Apocalypse.

4. There are four main characters in the chapter: “the woman,” the devil, Jesus, and the Archangel Michael. No one denies that the other three mentioned are real persons. It fits the context exegetically to interpret “the woman” as a person (Mary) as well.

How do we know Mary is bodily in heaven?

Some may concede Mary to be the woman of Revelation 12, but the next logical question is: “How does this mean she is in heaven bodily? There are lots of souls in heaven, but they don’t have their bodies.”

It seems clear that “the woman” is depicted as having “the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown” (vs. 1). Elsewhere in Rev. and in other parts of Scripture, saints in heaven are referred to as the “souls of those who had been slain” (Rev. 6:9) or “the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:23). Why? Because they do not have bodies! They are disembodied “souls” or “spirits.” But the “woman” of Rev. 12 is portrayed as having a body with a head and feet.

But perhaps even more important than this is the fact that “the Ark of the Covenant” is revealed as being in heaven in Rev. 11:19. This is just one verse prior to the unveiling of “the woman” of Rev. 12:1.

Some may respond at this point: “Who cares if the ‘Ark of the Covenant’ is said to be in heaven?”

This is crucial, because Hebrews 9:4 tells us what was contained within the ark: a portion of manna, the miraculous “bread from heaven” of Old Testament fame, Aaron’s staff, and the Ten Commandments. In fact, it was precisely because of these sacred contents that the ark was so holy, and that is precisely why it is here depicted as having been taken up to heaven.

The question is: Is the Ark of the Covenant depicted as being in heaven a “what” (an Old Testament box made of acacia wood overlain with gold in Exodus 25), or a “who?” I argue it not only to be a “who” but to be the Blessed Virgin Mary for these reasons:

Let’s first take a look at the text of Rev. 11:19:

Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within in his temple; and there were flashes of lightning, loud noises, peals of thunder, an earthquake, and heavy hail.

In order to appreciate the identity of “the ark,” let’s first take a look at the identity of “the temple” that St. John sees as housing the ark. John 2:19-21 and Rev. 21:22 tell us quite plainly that the temple St. John speaks of is not a temple made of brick and mortar.

Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”. . .  But he spoke of the temple of his body (Jn. 2:21).

I saw no temple [in heaven], for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the lamb (Rev. 21:22).

When St. John views the temple in heaven, he is not viewing the Old Testament temple. He is viewing the true temple, which is Christ’s body. In the same way, St. John is not seeing the Old Covenant ark. He sees the new and true Ark of the Covenant. And remember: this would not just be talking about Mary but Mary’s body! It was Mary’s body that housed the Son of God, the fulfillment of the various types of Christ that were contained in the Old Covenant ark.

The conclusion is inescapable. Where is Mary’s body? In heaven, according to the Book of Revelation!

A final objection

Some may argue at this point our energy was wasted in asserting Mary to be identified with “the woman” of Revelation 12 because this “woman” is depicted as “travailing” with the pangs of labor in verse 2. Thus, this cannot be the “Catholic” Mary.

Two points in response:

1. No matter which interpretation you choose—Israel, the Church, Mary, or all of the above—all interpretations agree: the labor pains of Rev. 12:2 are not literal pains from a child passing through the birth canal. This really should not be a problem at all.

2. From the very beginning of Mary’s calling to be the Mother of the Messiah, she would have most likely known her Son was called to be the “suffering servant” of Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and Wisdom 2.

Mary’s “labor pains” began at the Annunciation and would continue from the cradle to the cross, where she suffered with her Son as prophesied in Luke 2:34-35 and as painfully fulfilled in John 19. Mary’s deep love for and knowledge of her divine Son brought with it pains far deeper than any physical hurt could ever cause. A body can go numb and cease to feel pain. But you can’t deaden a heart that loves, as long as that heart continues to love. Mary clearly chose to love. She was uniquely present for our Lord, from the Incarnation of Luke 1:37-38, to the birthing of his ministry in John 2, to the cross in John 19, and into eternity in Revelation 12.

If you enjoyed this, there is much more in my new book available by clicking here.

Tim Staples on EWTN

If you didn’t get a chance to see it, check out Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J., interviewing me on “EWTN Live” this past Jan. 21, 2015. Fr. Pacwa is a dear friend and a truly amazing priest. We talked about the Marian doctrines and devotion and promoted my new book, to which I am honored to say, Fr. Pacwa gave his endorsement: Behold Your Mother – A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines. Fr. Pacwa said of my book:

Tim Staples respectfully but clearly answers every conceivable Protestant objection to Mary, the Mother of God. With the street cred of one who has been there, Tim backs up his words with Scripture every time. His answers are exhaustive but not exhausting! An invaluable book for thoughtful, truth-seeking Christians.

Check out the TV broadcast here, and check out the book, here.

Were Joseph and Mary Married at the Time of the Annunciation?

In my new book, Behold Your Mother – A Biblical and Historical Defense of the Marian Doctrines, I tackle about every objection to the Marian doctrines out there. One of these is the question of the annunciation as it relates to Mary’s famous response to the angel Gabriel.

When the Archangel Gabriel visited Mary and declared unto her that she was called to be the Mother of God, as we see recorded in Luke 1, her response would become the cause of the spilling of a whole lot of ink over the centuries: “How shall this happen, since I know not man?” (v. 34, Douay Rheims, Confraternity Edition).

For Catholics this is an indication of Mary’s vow of perpetual virginity. It’s really quite simple. If Mary and Joseph were just an ordinary couple embarking on a normal married life together, there would be no reason to ask the question. Mary would have known very well how it could be that the angel was saying she would have a baby. As St. Augustine said it:

Had she intended to know man, she would not have been amazed. Her amazement is a sign of the vow (Sermon 225, 2).

But Protestants do not see it as quite so simple. Reformed Apologist James White gives us an example of the most common objection to our “Catholic” view of this text:

Nothing about a vow is mentioned in Scripture. Mary’s response to the angel was based upon the fact that it was obvious that the angel was speaking about an immediate conception, and since Mary was at that time only engaged to Joseph, but not married, at that time she could not possibly conceive in a natural manner, since she did not “know a man” (Mary—Another Redeemer? p. 31.).

Among the errors in just these two sentences (I counted four), there are two that stand out for our purpose here.

Error #1: Mr. White claims Mary was engaged to St. Joseph.

There was no such thing as “engagement” (as it is understood in modern Western culture) in ancient Israel. The text says Mary was “betrothed” or “espoused” (Gr.—emnesteumene), not engaged. Betrothal, in ancient Israel, would be akin to the ratification of a marriage (when a couple exchanges vows in the presence of an official witness of the Church) in Catholic theology. That ratified marriage is then consummated—in the normal course—on the couple’s wedding night. So when Luke 1:27 says Mary was betrothed, it means they were already married at the time of the annunciation. If this were an ordinary marriage, St. Joseph would then have had a husband’s right to the marriage bed—the consummation.

This simple truth proves devastating to Mr. White’s (and the Protestant’s) argument. If Joseph and Mary were married—and they were—and they were planning the normal course, Mary would have known full and well how she could and would have a baby. As St. Augustine said, the question reveals the fact that this was not just your average, ordinary marriage. They were not planning to consummate their union.

Betrothed = Married?

For those who are not convinced “betrothed” equals “married” for Mary and Joseph; fortunately, the Bible makes this quite clear. If we move forward in time from the “annunciation” of Luke 1 to Matthew 1 and St. Joseph’s discovery of Mary’s pregnancy, we find Matthew 1:18 clearly stating Mary and Joseph were still “betrothed.” Yet, when Joseph found out Mary was “with child,” he determined he would “send her away privately” (vs. 19). The Greek verb translated in the RSVCE to send away is apolusai, which means divorce. Why would Joseph have to divorce Mary if they were only “engaged?”

Further, the angel then tells Joseph:

Do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit . . . When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took his wife (vss. 20-24).

Notice, Joseph took Mary “his wife,” indicating both St. Matthew and an archangel considered this couple married even though they were said to be “betrothed.” “Betrothed” is obviously much more than “engaged.”

Moreover, months later we find Joseph and Mary travelling together to Bethlehem to be enrolled as a family according to the decree of Caesar Augustus, just before Jesus would be born. They were obviously married; yet, even then, they were still said to be “betrothed” (see Luke 2:5).

So let’s recap what have we have uncovered. First, Joseph had already taken his espoused “wife” into his home and was caring for her. Second, Scripture reveals him to be her legal husband and to have travelled with Mary to be enrolled with her as a lawfully wedded couple and family. Third, she was called St. Joseph’s “wife” by the angel of the Lord… and yet, they were still referred to as “betrothed.”

Referring to Mary and Joseph as “engaged” in the face of all of this evidence would be like calling a modern couple at their wedding reception “engaged” because they have yet to consummate their marriage.

Once the fact that Mary and Joseph were already married at the time of the annunciation is understood, Mary’s “How shall this happen…” comes more into focus. Think about it: If you were a woman who had just been married (your marriage was “ratified,” but not consummated) and someone at your reception said—or “prophesied”—that you were going to have a baby—that would not really be all that much of a surprise. That is the normal course of events. You marry, consummate the union, and babies come along. You certainly would not ask the question, “Gee, how is this going to happen?” It is in this context of Mary having been betrothed, then, that her question does not make sense… unless, of course, you understand she had a vow of virginity. Then, it makes perfect sense.

Error #2: Mr. White claimed, “…it was obvious that the angel was speaking about an immediate conception.” And, closely related to this, Mr. White then claimed Mary asked the question, “How shall this happen…?” because she knew “at that time she could not conceive in a natural manner?”

Really? It was obvious?

There is not a single word in this text or anywhere else in Scripture that indicates Mary knew her conception was going to be immediate and via supernatural means. That’s why she asked the question, “How shall this happen…?” It appears she did not know the answer. How could she? Why would it ever enter into her mind? There would be no way apart from a revelation from God that she could have known. And most importantly, according to the text, the angel did not reveal the fact that Mary would conceive immediately and supernaturally until after Mary asked the question.

But let’s suppose Mary was “engaged” as Mr. White claims. There would be even less reason to believe the conception would be immediate and somehow supernatural then there would be if Mary had a vow of virginity (though there’s really no reason to think this in either scenario). An “engaged” woman would have naturally assumed that when she and St. Joseph would later consummate their marriage, they could expect a very special surprise from God. They were going to conceive the Messiah. There would be no reason to think anything else. And there would be no reason to ask the question.

One final thought: When Mary asked the question, “How shall this happen, since I do not know man,” the verb to be (Gr.-estai) is in the future tense. There is nothing here that would indicate she was thinking of the immediate. The future tense here most likely refers to… the future. The question was not how she could conceive immediately. The question was how she could conceive ever. The angel answered that question for her.

If you enjoyed this post, click here to dive deeper and learn more.

Mother of God

For many in the more traditional Protestant communities, believing Mary to be the Theotokos (Gr.—God-bearer), or Mother of God, is an area of agreement with Catholics. They may not see all of the theological implications of this dogma, but they believe it as such. They would acknowledge Mary to be the Mother of God as the logical result of their faith in Jesus as one divine person. If Jesus Christ is truly God, then Mary is truly the Mother of God. But for millions among Fundamentalist and Evangelical communities, it is a different story. Let’s just say they would not join in on January 1st when we Catholics celebrate the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God.

One can basically narrow down the objections to this great dogma of the faith to essentially three. The first states “the obvious.” No where in Sacred Scripture do we find the words “Mother of God” used to describe Mary. “If this doctrine were as important as Roman Catholics claim, would not at least one of the inspired writers have used it?” The second objection is rooted in Luke 1:43—a text used by Catholics to demonstrate a biblical foundation for the Theotokos—wherein Elizabeth “exclaimed [to Mary] with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?’” The Protestant Fundamentalist will point out this text does not call Mary Mother of God; it calls her “mother of my Lord.” The New Testament uses the term lord (Gr.—kurios) in the context of divinity at times, but it also uses it with reference to human persons in various contexts. This text, it is argued, does not refer to the divinity of Christ, but to his humanity. And finally, the point is made that it is impossible for God to have a Mother. “God is a Trinity. If Mary is the Mother of God, she is the mother of the Trinity! Therefore, the Trinity is no longer a Trinity, it would be a Quadrinity!”

Objection One: Where is That in the Bible?

To say Mary cannot be the Mother of God because sacred Scripture does not use those explicit words places the Protestant in a very uncomfortable position. He would also have to conclude multiple essential Christian doctrines to be erroneous because they are not found verbatim in the Bible either. Let’s just take the Trinity for example. This is “the central mystery of the Christian faith” (CCC 234), and yet the term “Trinity” is not found in the Bible. This is not to mention terms like homoousios (Gr.—same nature, Jesus has the “same nature” as his Father), hypostatic union, the circumincessions of the persons of the Blessed Trinity, etc. The question the Protestant really needs to ask is: Is the concept of Mary, Mother of God revealed to us in Sacred Scripture? And we will see that it is. Thus, this first point is quite easily dismissed.

Objection Two: Jesus is “Lord,” But Not “God” in Luke 1:43

Objection #2 is not so easily dismissed. The Greek word kurios or “lord” can indeed be used to denote divinity but not necessarily so. In fact, a great example of the latter is found in Corinthians 8:5:

For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth — as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords” –

Here the term “lord” (Gr. – kurios) is obviously not used to refer to divinity. Moreover, Christ himself refers to the “owner of the vineyard” in his parable of the householder in Matthew 21:33-40, as kurios, or “lord of the vineyard,” in verse 40. Thus, kurios can be used specifically with regard to a human person. However, if we go back to I Cor. 8:5, the very next verse gives us an example of kurios being used with regard to divinity:

Yet to us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Notice two key points: Jesus is called both the one Lord and he is called creator of all things. There can be no doubt in this context that our Lord’s divinity is being referenced. Every Jew knew the truth of the great Sh’ma of Deut. 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD.” There is only one Lord in Israel. And according to our text quoted from I Corinthians, Jesus is that one Lord. Moreover, Jesus is called the creator of all things. Genesis 1:1 cannot make it any clearer that it is almighty God who is the creator of all things. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The title kurios applied to Christ as creator of all things in I Corinthians 8:6 is clearly a title of divinity for Christ. It is the context that makes this ever so apparent.

The key to our discussion then is to ascertain how kurios is being used of Christ in Luke 1:43. Was it being used to describe Jesus with regard to his humanity alone, or with regard to his divinity? There are at least two reasons we can know for certain it refers to Christ as a divine person. First, if we understand its Old Testament antecedent, the conclusion becomes clear. Elizabeth was referring, almost verbatim, to a text from II Samuel 6:9 wherein David exclaims concerning the Old Testament ark of the Covenant:

And David was afraid of the LORD that day; and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?”

When Elizabeth “exclaimed with a loud cry… Why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me” (Luke 1:42-43), Mary was revealed to be the New Testament Ark of the Covenant. The question is: Was the ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament the ark of an earthly potentate, or was it the ark of almighty God? The answer is obvious. In the same way, the more glorious New Covenant Ark of the Covenant is not an ark of an earthly potentate, but it is the Ark of Almighty God.

The second and most important reason we know Luke 1:43 is referring to Mary to be the Mother of God is summed up nicely in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 495:

Called in the Gospels “the mother of Jesus,” Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as “the mother of my Lord.” In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father’s eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly “Mother of God” (Theotokos).

Mary is the Mother of God precisely because Jesus Christ, her Son, is God. And when Mary gave birth, she did not give birth to a nature, or even two natures; she gave birth to one, divine person. To deny this essential truth of the faith, as the Council of Ephesus (AD 431) declared, is to cut oneself off from full communion with Christ and his Church. In the first of many “anathemas” of St. Cyril, the famous fifth-century bishop of Alexandria, which would be accepted by the Council, it decreed:

If anyone does not confess that God is truly Emmanuel, and that on this account the Holy Virgin is the Mother of God (for according to the flesh she gave birth to the Word of God become flesh by birth), let him be anathema.

Notice, the Council referred to the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 in its definition. This prophetic text prophesied over 700 years before the birth of Christ, the Messiah was to be born of a woman and yet he was to be “God with us.”

The real problem with denying Mary as Mother of God and affirming Mary to be only the mother of the man Christ Jesus is in doing so one invariably either denies the divinity of Christ (as the 4th century Arians did), or one creates two persons with regard to Jesus Christ. Either error results in heresy. The Ecumenical Councils of Nicaea (AD 325) and Constantinople (AD 381) dealt decisively with the Arian heresy. The Council of Ephesus (AD 431) as mentioned above dealt with this latter heresy as it was being taught by the followers of Patriarch Nestorius of Constantinople. Rather than teaching the truth that Christ is one divine person with two natures—one human, and one divine—hypostatically unified, or joined together without admixture in the one divine person of Christ, they were teaching Christ to be two persons with a mere moral union. The Council fathers understood this could never be affirmed by Christians. The Bible declares to us: “… in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (Colossians 2:9). And, “… in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…” (Colossians 1:16) No where do we read in them; we only read of him. One cannot overstate the importance of what we are discussing here because we are ultimately talking about essentially different Christs. Jesus is truly one divine person. If one prays to a Jesus who is two persons, one prays to a “Jesus” who does not exist!

Objection Three: The Quadrinity Problem

“If God is Trinity, and Mary is the Mother of God, would that not mean Mary is the Mother of the Trinity?” Actually, it does not. Paragraph 495 of the Catechism, quoted above, was very clear that Mary is the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity because neither the Father nor the Holy Spirit were incarnate. Simple enough. But I am going to suggest the problem here to be deeper than just a confusion of persons within the Godhead. In my experience, this simple explanation almost invariably leads to another question that reveals the real problem in the mind of many Fundamentalists: “Even if Mary is only the Mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity, he is just as eternal as the other two divine persons. Thus, in order to be his mother, Mary would still have to be equally as eternal.” The root of the Quadrinity problem is really a false understanding of what is meant by Mary’s true motherhood and perhaps a false understanding of what is meant by motherhood in general.

The Bottom Line

By saying Mary is the Mother of God, the Catholic Church is not saying that Mary is the source of the divine nature among the three persons of the Blessed Trinity, nor is she the source of the divine nature of the second person of the Blessed Trinity. But then again, she doesn’t have to be in order to be the mother of the second person of the Blessed Trinity incarnate. Perhaps an analogy using normal human reproduction will help clarify the Catholic and biblical truth of the matter. My wife is the mother of my son, Timmy. But this in no way implies that she is the source of Timmy’s immortal soul. God directly and immediately created his soul as he does with every human being (see Eccl. 12:7). However, we do not conclude from this that my wife, Valerie, is merely “the mother of Timmy’s body.” She is Timmy’s mother… period. This is so because she did not give birth to a body. She gave birth to a human person who is a body/soul composite… Timmy.

Analogously, though Mary did not provide Jesus with either his divine nature or his immortal human soul, she is still his mother because she did not give birth to a body, a soul, a nature, or even two natures—she gave birth to a person. And that one person is God. The conclusion to the whole matter is inescapable. Just as many of the more traditional Protestants would confess with us as Catholics: If Jesus Christ is one, eternal and unchangeable divine person—God—and Mary is his mother—then Mary is the Mother of that one, eternal and unchangeable person—God.

If you are interested in diving deeper into this and more about Mary, the Mother of God, click here for much more!