Mary…. a Truly Divine Mother?
Today is Mother’s Day, and like most families across the country, we got together and had brunch. There were 12 of us and it was something – 6 kids with 6 adults. Jill and Drew came from Oklahoma to celebrate with us and of course, all the local grandkids were here as well.
Aside from the normal festivities of the day, we were busy helping Kristin move into her new home – so the whole week-end was a little out of the ordinary. Of course, you know by now that I always tend to think a little outside the box, and before long, my thoughts turned to mothers across the world. Not only in this time, but going all the way back to Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Certainly, as we read about miracle births, the pregnancy of Mary, and ultimate birth of Jesus to a virgin is at the top of the list. In fact, it is one of the things that separates Christianity from the rest of the religions. But even the birth of Jesus to a human mother has stirred strong emotions throughout the centuries between the various churches. The fundamental question that has been debated is where Mary falls into the whole story about the birth of Jesus. Of course, we know that she is the mother of Jesus, and while Jacob is considered the earthly father of Jesus, we know from the Scripture that the Holy Spirit let Mary know that she had found favor with God and would be with child.
Now there are some religions that believe that God came down from heaven and had a physical relationship with Mary. Of course, the main line denominations do not in any way believe that, but there is one area concerning the birth of Christ that is hotly contested throughout the world, even to this day.
And that surrounds the holiness of Mary. Most protestant religions will take the position that Mary was human and therefore, capable of sin. That meant that Jesus had a mother who, like the rest of us, was of a sinful nature. Since she had been born of mortal parents, it stands to reason that she was your average teenage young woman, going about her daily life, when she was approached by the angel Gabriel and told that she would have a son.
But other Christian teachings submit that Mary was divine and, therefore, not capable of sin. The logic goes that God does not interact with sin and therefore, in order for Jesus to have been born without sin, He would have had to been born from a holy mother. Since the Bible clearly tells us that Mary was the mother of Jesus, she had to be holy as well, at least according to this argument.
Most of the people I have heard this position from are Catholic. I confess that I don’t know if this is mainline Catholic theology or not, as I didn’t study this deeply in seminary. But I do know that witnessing the caskets of John Paul II and other popes in the past, they have a cross, with an “M” engraved next to it, on the face of the coffin as they are laid to rest in St. Peter’s Basilica. The “M” stands for Mary, and in the Catholic church, Mary is certainly elevated beyond the level that she is afforded in the other mainline churches. And herein lies the difference in several of the different religious doctrines relative to the sinless nature of Mary.
Now if Mary really was sinless, they I suppose that she would have to be divine, and at least for me, that seems to be a slippery slope. I was taught, and still believe, that only the Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are deity. This is something that is so fundamental to my faith that I can’t even consider a change of position. But who knows, in heaven, I will know for sure if it’s different that what I have been taught throughout my life.
While most of us would like to believe that our mothers are divine, we usually don’t mean it literally. Suffice it to say that with what most of them put up with, they should at least be considered saints. That’s one position I can agree with. And Lord knows, life just wouldn’t be the same without mothers.
The verse for tonight reflects the thoughts of a woman in a crowd, speaking to Jesus as He passes. In Luke 11:27, the educated doctor tells us, “As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” And we certainly know that mary was blessed by God.
My encouragement this evening to to let you know that God has a special place in His heart for women. When Jesus was involved in His earthly ministry, He quite often spoke of women who had been instrumental in His journey. Visiting the home of Mary and Martha, the woman who bathed His feet in perfume, appearing to women after the resurrection and the friendship Jesus had with women throughout His ministry, all illustrate His commitment to women, and mothers in particular. My prayer is that you will be committed to acknowledge the work of mothers in our world as well. They are very special and I for one, wish my mother was still alive to celebrate with today. At least my mother-in-law is. Happy Mother’s Day, Nancy…. Grace and peace…