The Lutheran Witness

Mary, Mary, quite contrary

Comments (8)
  1. Avatar John J. Flanagan says:

    Mary should be remembered and venerated as a special woman who was called by God to give birth to Jesus in His human form. However, Mary never sought to be worshipped nor is it proper or Biblical to elevate her to the level which the Roman church raised her. But then again, the Roman Catholic Church also canonized a multitude of saints and placed them into worship status and even today encourages people to pray to them for intervention and assistance. Also, the Roman church ascribed supernatural powers to holy water and relics of the dried skin and bones of dead saints, going further than the word of God permits. Even the Reformation failed to cause the Roman Church to halt the misguided worship of Mary and the saints.

  2. Avatar John Walker says:

    Fine article about Mary. I have always had a fondness for Mary and have had a great appreciation for what she did in being the first person to accept Jesus on HIS terms, regardless of any personal cost! I agree with Rev. Weedon, that we should not pray to Mary but honor her as the Mother of God in the flesh! And it would be nice to see a St. Mary’s Lutheran Church someday!

  3. Avatar jake bauman says:

    Catholics don’t pray to Mary. Catholics ask Mary to intercede on their behalf with God. It is nuanced, but there is a difference

    1. Avatar John Joseph Flanagan says:

      Jake, it is still wrong to ask Mary to “intercede” for us, when we are supposed to pray directly to the Lord ourselves. As a former Catholic, raised and educated for 9 years of parochial school education, I questioned some of the doctrines I was being taught, and one thing very troubling was the idea of praying to various saints and Mary to intercede for me at times of trial. One example and a personal anecdote is this: I was once a 22 year old Marine sent to South Vietnam and assigned to a small outpost in a rural district. I had been in-country for only one week. I was part of a small unit of Marines and Army Advisors augmented by local militia types(Vietnamese popular forces). My first combat exposure of my year long tour occurred that first week, with a night attack on our compound by the Viet Cong. As I was returning fire at flashes of enemy small arms and shadows of moving guerrillas in the darkness in front of our fields of fire, I began to say a prayer. I thought to myself, as a Catholic, “Should I ask Mary for help? Should I pray to Saint Jude? Should I pray to Saint Christopher? No….better just go right to the Lord!” Do you see my point? I survived that night and many more engagements by the grace of God. Even if I would have lost my life in that faraway battle, I could not waste my time praying to dead saints for this there intercession on my behalf. I would rather just pray to Jesus. No other name will do.

      1. Avatar Laura says:

        I’m a former LCMS Lutheran who is now Eastern Orthodox. With respect, do you ask your Christian friends to pray for you? Then why wouldn’t you ask our heavenly friends, Mary and the saints, to pray for you? Our God is the God of the living, not of the dead!

        1. Avatar Cheryl says:

          I agree–essentially. But historically, there is a vein with runs through Roman Catholicism which promulgates the idea very well expressed by Mr. Flanagan, that we not only ask these saints to pray for us, but that it is preferable, undercutting a proper Christology. Of course asking earthly friends to pray for us, can do the exact same thing. Imho, the problem is not in the asking, but in the why.

          And that’s where I (a nonlutheran, just a wayward Christian) would diverge from Lutheranism. I don’t believe a correction to this roman catholic tradition, requires a total renunciation of, ‘Mary I love you and I know you love me too’. I talk to Mary. I talk to my Dad and Grandmother. I know they all love me and care for me. In Christ, all things are mine, all things in heaven even. I have a real relationship with them, centered in Christ who is ever present. Of course He is! He is never alone! Where they are He is, and where He is, they are! That is my praying-with-Scripture experience.

          May God, who is Truth lead us into all Truth

  4. Avatar Donald Collins says:

    Mary was not only chosen by God to give birth to Jesus but to be his human mother also. Being devout in the Hebrew faith she would raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (think, spiritually, God knew this when he picked her?). The Son of God in Jesus didn’t need this but the Son of Man did (Hebrews 2:17&18). The perfect mind of Christ in Jesus kept him from sinning. Christians strive to have this perfected mind of Christ
    (1 Corinthians 2:16, Philippians 2:5) .

    So Mary’s job was to be the mother of Jesus the human (Son of Man). Not to raise the Son of God or tell anyone who he was until His time had come, these things were between God the Father (whom Jesus says he listens to in several places in scripture) and Jesus Christ.

    This is brought out in recorded scripture encounters between Jesus and Mary and by the reaction of Jesus’s Nazareth neighbors and His siblings as to who He was or wasn’t.

    Encounter 1. The boy Jesus in the temple (Luke 2;41-52). Here Mary is doing her justified frustrated mom thing chewing out her puberty 12 yr old (human) son for making them worry. Typical natural behavior 12yr old boy thing to show off how much He already knows. What is interesting is how some say Mary forgot that Jesus was God’s son. Mary didn’t forget who He is, she knew full well who He is she pondered those things in her heart-ingrained them – remember. They get this from Luke 2:50 “And they did not understand the saying that He spoke to them.” It wasn’t that Mary didn’t get the gist of what He was saying, she knew she wasn’t finished doing what God had assigned her to do, raise the boy in the nurture and admiration of the Lord, and she expected Him to toe the line. What she didn’t understand is why He was saying this now. Jesus got the message also Luke 2:51 “And he went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them. And his mother treasured up all these things in her heart.” God spoke through Mary, it wasn’t time for the Son of God to come out, and Jesus knew it – “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long…”

    Encounter 2.The wedding at Cana; John 2:1-11. This occurred after Jesus had been baptized, John announced Him as the Lamb of God and Jesus started picking up his disciples. Mary would have known about this because she was at the wedding as well with Jesus and his new disciples.
    It was now apparent that Jesus, after 30 yrs, was launching his ministry. Now Mary who hadn’t said a peep to anyone about Jesus being the Son of God felt inspired to tell Jesus the party was running out of wine. We know from scripture Mary didn’t tell her neighbors in Nazareth or even her other children (Mathew 13:55-57) that Jesus was also the Son of God – they had no clue. It is apparent Mary brought up Jesus in the same manner as his siblings not showing favoritism.

    So this time, Jesus tells her ‘my time has not yet come’ but at 12 he was ready to rip! Mary follows her inspiration and tells the servants do what ever he tells you. Again God speaks through Mary. Jesus gets the message and now knows it is time to come out. He tells the servants to pour water into the water jars, the water becomes wine, and he tells them to serve the wine.

    Encounter 3. (Mark 3:1-6) Sometime after the Pharisees started plotting with the Herodians against Him, how to destroy Him, Jesus was speaking to a crowd in His home town. Where they were already questioning the truthfulness of Him. “And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”Mark 3:21. They were afraid for His safety, many influential people were plotting to destroy Him
    Many read this and think Mary and his brothers thought Jesus was crazy without reading the preceding text and other threatening text against Jesus. In Mark 3: 31-35 He is letting His mom know that this is His mission He now belongs to all who will accept Him not just to them. He is now totally in God the father’s hands as to what will happen to Him she needs to let go now and let God.

    Encounter 4. From the cross Jesus spoke His last words to His mother and told John to take care of Her (John 19: 25-27). He now returned the blessing to His mom for the many blessings she gave Him in raising Him.

    From the humbleness, praise and understanding of what God has done not only for her but all mankind, expressed in her Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), we know Mary clearly understood her place in God’s grand plan:

    Luke 1:
    46 And Mary said,“My soul magnifies the Lord,
    47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    48 for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.
    For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
    49 for He who is mighty has done great things for me,
    and holy is His name.

    She was God’s good and faithful servant and rejoiced in the opportunity not only to give birth to Jesus but to be his mom. There was a great, special, loving and understanding relationship between God the Father, Jesus Christ and Mary. This is her unique blessing through time and the life she now enjoys with God her savior Amen.

  5. Avatar Pat Johnson says:

    I did not come to know what it really means to be a Christian until I was in my 30’s. A Lutheran pastor lived next door and invited me to his church. I was also invited to join their bible study and that’s when my life changed. I was raised in a works-righteous religion and like Luther, never felt good enough. I could never say enough prayers or offer sacrifices to feel worthy of God’s love. The scriptures spoke to me and I finally understood. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6 “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 It’s that simple. There’s no mention of saints, or Mary, or anything else.