Sunday reflection: John 2:1–11

posted at 11:31 am on January 17, 2016 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here.  For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is John 2:1–11:

There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding. When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.” And Jesus said to her, “Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servers, “Do whatever he tells you.”

Now there were six stone water jars there for Jewish ceremonial washings, each holding twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told them, “Fill the jars with water.” So they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it. And when the headwaiter tasted the water that had become wine, without knowing where it came from —although the servers who had drawn the water knew—, the headwaiter called the bridegroom and said to him, “Everyone serves good wine first, and then when people have drunk freely, an inferior one; but you have kept the good wine until now.” Jesus did this as the beginning of his signs at Cana in Galilee and so revealed his glory, and his disciples began to believe in him.

Have you seen one of the more recent Geico commercials in which a secret agent, in the middle of deadly action, gets a call from his mother? While he’s bouncing all over the roof and fending off villains, she blithely maintains a patter of small talk. The son tries to politely tell her that he’s a little busy right now and it’s not a good time to talk, but she just ignores him and continues. “If you’re a mom, you call at the worst time,” the narrator explains. “It’s what you do.” My wife hates that ad, and I’ll bet my mother doesn’t like it much either, but I find it amusing.

For some reason, this passage from the Gospel — one of my favorites — brings that to mind. It’s not so much because it’s comparable, but because it’s the complete opposite of the dynamic in the ad. There is more than enough in this passage to fill thousands of Sunday reflections, but let’s focus on Mary’s call and the importance of the context for Jesus’ first recorded public miracle.

Mary, Jesus, and his disciples come to a wedding in Cana, about ten kilometers from Nazareth, a goodly distance and probably no easy jaunt around the hills in those days. The wedding had to be of some significance to draw people from that distance. A wedding would be a celebration, not an occasion for work, and perhaps especially not an occasion where launching a ministry would seem propitious. Jesus had begun those efforts already — the disciples accompanied Him to the wedding — but we have no record of any miracles that Jesus would perform as signs of His identity and of salvation. Presumably, Jesus and His disciples intend to celebrate with everyone else in preparation for the trials to come later.

When the wine runs out — a social faux pas that will embarrass the families involved — Mary calls Jesus to intercede on their behalf. Jesus responds by telling her that “my hour has not yet come,” essentially asking her to call at a better time. Mary doesn’t call just to exchange meaningless pleasantries, however, and tells the servers to come to Jesus for assistance. This call has a purpose, and Jesus does not deny Mary her intercession for mercy. Instead, despite having told Mary that His hour had not yet come, He provides new and excellent wine for the celebrants, saving the families from humiliation and showing His disciples a glimpse of His true nature.

Did Jesus actually change His mind when Mary challenged him, or was this a purposeful test and demonstration for His disciples to remember? There are many interpretations of this critical moment in Jesus’ ministry, many of them not exclusive of one another. However, when put in the context of all the Scriptures, the setting for His first miracle cannot be seen as a coincidence.

Throughout the Old Testament, and especially in the prophets’ testimonies, the relationship between the Lord and His people is described constantly in marital terms. That is especially true when it comes to the salvation of Israel, in which the Lord promises that the matrimonial bond will be renewed in salvation.  We see that today in our first reading from Isaiah 62. “For the LORD delights in you and makes your land his spouse,” Isaiah declares. “As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you.”

God’s judgment often also comes wrapped in matrimonial terms as well. In Ezekiel 16, the Lord accuses the Israelites of playing the harlot even after He had given them the best bridegroom gifts possible.

Thus you were decked with gold and silver; and your clothing was of fine linen, and silk, and embroidered cloth; you ate fine flour and honey and oil. You grew exceedingly beautiful, and came to regal estate. And your renown went forth among the nations because of your beauty, for it was perfect through the splendor which I had bestowed upon you, says the Lord GOD. But you trusted in your beauty, and played the harlot because of your renown, and lavished your harlotries on any passer-by. You took some of your garments, and made for yourself gaily decked shrines, and on them played the harlot; the like has never been, nor ever shall be.

The matrimonial quality of our relationship to the Lord is so strong that he commanded His prophet Hosea to model Israel’s decadence by taking a harlot for his own bride. After Gomer fled Hosea to return to her former life, God commanded Hosea to buy her back.

And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is beloved of a paramour and is an adulteress; even as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.

The Lord warned Israel through Hosea of their unfaithfulness and “adultery” toward their Bridegroom. Even while doing so, the prophets continued to speak of a reconciliation in which the people would once again become a faithful bride, and that salvation would bring them once again to a blissful state in which all hunger and thirst would be fulfilled in the Lord.

In Cana, we have a wedding that has run out of wine, either through lack of preparation or overconsumption. Jesus, after Mary’s intercession, provides new wine that surpasses the old and completes the wedding celebrations. This is a foreshadowing, a small example, of our salvation and the blessings of our betrothal to the Lord at the end of time. Rather than the bitterness of Israel’s repeated betrayals of the covenant with the Lord, Jesus shows us the sweetness of redemption and prefigures the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.

Mary’s role is critical in this miracle. It can be no coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle is the rescue of a wedding as a sign of salvation to come. Mary, the spouse of the Holy Spirit, is moved to insist on an intercession, persevering even when Jesus apparently resists the idea. For Catholics (and some others), this is a sign of Mary’s role as the parallel of the Davidic kingdom’s Queen Mother, the woman who intercedes with her son the king on behalf of subjects within Israel. More broadly, this is a model for intercessory prayer — bringing our cares to the Lord, who knows them but allows us to form ourselves through these prayers to return to that faithful matrimonial model. It reminds us of the proper relationship we have with the Lord in our exile, while hoping to become true members of the Lord’s family in the end.

If nothing else, it reminds us that when Mom calls, it’s important. I’m pretty sure the First Mate will approve of that interpretation.

The front page image is “The Wedding at Cana,” Paolo Veronese, 1563, now at the Louvre. 


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Comments

This is to address several things that were brought up on this thread.

Mary has a relationship with each Person of the Holy Trinity.

Mary is the daughter of God the Father.

She is the mother of God the Son.

She is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit.

None of these relationships negate the other or can be denied or confused, because that would blur the distinct 3 Persons of the One Holy Trinity. something that all of us Christians agree on.

She is the “mother of God,” per Scripture and per early Church Tradition, since one of the first titles given to Mary in those first couple centuries was Theotokos, God bearer.

Remember that in Luke, Elizabeth was “inspired by the Holy Spirit” when she said, “how is it that the MOTHER OF MY LORD should come to me.”

Mary is the quintessential Christian that we should emulate. As this passage shows, she shows us how to pray to God. She doesn’t tell God to do what she wants done to fix a situation in her life. She simply presents the situation to Him. “They have no more wine.” Not “can you get them more wine?”

She trusts Him.

And the most important thing about Mary is that she ALWAYS points to Christ. She always tell us, “do whatever He tells you.”

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Oh and the reason Mary is the “spouse” of the Holy Spirit is also in Luke.

The Holy Spirit “overshadowed” her.

The root of the word used for “overshadow” is like the Hebrew word used in Ruth 3:9 when it talks of spreading one’s cloak over a woman. Which means to make her his spouse.

Overshadowed is also obviously the same word used in Exodus, when the Shekinah spirit of God “overshadowed” the Ark of the Old Covenant, showing God’s presence there.

Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant because her womb held the Word of God made Flesh, our High Priest forever, and the Bread from Heaven. (The Ark of the Old Covenant held the tablets of the Word of God, the top of the high priest Aaron’s rod and a pot of Manna.)

This is significant when reading what jetboy wrote about Revelation 12 and “the woman clothed with the sun.” Apocalyptic writing means several things at the same time and can have several valid interpretations. The woman is the Church. The woman is Israel.

CHristian theologians from the beginning saw this.

But the plain meaning since the beginning for Christians is also that the woman was Mary and that her son was Jesus.

The interesting thing is that when the New Testament was written, it didn’t have chapters and verses. Those came about a thousand years ago.

So Revelation 11:19 talks about John seeing in the heavens the Ark of the Covenant. Then in Rev 12:1 he talks about the woman clothed with the sun. The Ark of the Old Covenant hadn’t been mentioned in Scripture for a few centuries. So it is interesting that it is mentioned right before “the woman clothed with the sun.” The Ark of the New Covenant.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Okay. The problem with that verse – if you read on just a few verse afterward that one, though Jesus didn’t call Peter “Pope”, Jesus did call Peter “Satan”.

Christ didn’t consider Peter to be Satan when he said that. Christ was telling His apostles that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the high priests, be put to death, and rise on the third day.

Peter immediately spoke out that nothing like that will happen to you (paraphrasing here) and Christ responded “Get behind me, Satan” because Peter was being rebuked, just like Christ rebuked Satan’s temptations in the desert. When Peter spoke out about Christ’s foretelling his fate, Christ told him he had no place standing in the way of God’s plans, like Satan did in the desert.

I didn’t say Christ called Peter a pope…just to be clear, I put pope in quotes simply using the term to mean the position. The titles, duties, methods of papal succession, etc. have evolved over time. But again, this is documented.

And every subsequent “pope” is well documented, right up to Pope Francis today.

I think you’d be mighty hard-pressed to find a historian that would agree on that.

That would entirely depend on one very important factor: Whether or not Christ appointed Peter to head His Church (singular) or His Churches (plural, or as a body of believers). The papal line, as I said, is fully documented…but it’s completely meaningless if you don’t believe Christ ever appointed Peter, or anyone else, to lead Christ’s one, true, universal and apostolic Church.

I want to give you a quick link that isn’t Catholic-based, to keep things from appearing biased: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_papacy

The issue here would be one of linguistics and much too long to be gone into, suffice to say Jesus didn’t speak English. Here’s an indepth look at the term (ekklésia) translated as “church” (also note the Greek had no upper v lower case distinction)

Yes, but there’s more than one Greek vocabulary here. The more modern Greek that Protestants use for translation, and an older Greek that was in use closest to the time the gospels were written. And they can be very different when using one over the other in translation. The Catholic Church relied on the appropriate older Greek vocabulary in translating.

All believers who who trust in Christ are considered as part of his church (Big or little “C”), no matter, or sometimes in spite of, which church they attend.

Says who? Where in scripture does it even remotely mentions “trust in Christ” is all that matters? Or that it doesn’t matter if thousands of different Christian faiths are seemingly meaningless? It seems you’re suggesting that if you call yourself a Christian, that’s good enough.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:08 PM

Something else that came up here.

God is God and He could have come from the womb of any woman and still have been untainted by sin.

However, we see that that is not how God does things. There is a beauty to His ways and there is sacredness.

The Word of God (Moses’ tablets) could have been put in any old broken pot and they would still be the Word of God. Yet God crafted the Ark of the Old Covenant to hold the Word of God with great care. Several chapters in Exodus tell of God’s directives on how it should be crafted and handled.

So too, He crafted the Ark of the New Covenant with such care and love. His sense of beauty and sacredness. She was His vessel that would hold God Himself. He preserved her from sin touching her, “at the moment of her conception.” Not before, because she needed a Savior and not after, or sin would have touched her. He saved her by His grace at a different time than others.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:13 PM

This is a relative concise explanation:

http://www.catholic.com/magazine/articles/hail-mary-conceived-without-sin

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 8:27 PM

Thank you, I missed that till just now.

I’d have to say it seems to be reading a lot of stuff into a few verses that isn’t there. I understand Catholic places a lot of emphasis on it’s tradition and my take would be that it’s some retro-exegesis to support a tradition. In the history of the the Immaculate Conception idea, it didn’t become a doctrine until December 8, 1854. My personal thinking would be how could they not know such a (to them) foundational, important truth for a millennium plus some 800 years?

I use like criteria on things that Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and others hold as doctrine, I’m not just pickin’ on Catholic folk, I get along with ’em pretty well and would also disagree with most Protestant folks on any number of things. (But I try not to be too disagreeable.)

On the lighter side, here’s a Saint’s Name Generator for ya:
http://saintsnamegenerator.com/index.php

whatcat on January 17, 2016 at 11:17 PM

In the history of the the Immaculate Conception idea, it didn’t become a doctrine until December 8, 1854. My personal thinking would be how could they not know such a (to them) foundational, important truth for a millennium plus some 800 years?

whatcat on January 17, 2016 at 11:17 PM

It was not “formally declared to be infallible” doctrine until 1854, but the belief was around from the beginning.

All Christians, both East and West, believed Mary was sinless. Given a singular grace. The Eastern Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox) believe she was infused with grace at that moment. Western Christians (both Catholic and early Protestants) believed that original sin was removed from her soul, at the moment of her conception, not beforehand.

You will not find any early Christian writings that talk about Mary sinning. It is an ancient Christian belief. Not from 1865

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:29 PM

whatcat on January 17, 2016 at 11:17 PM

Also, remember that the angel Gabriel told Mary she was “full of grace” BEFORE she conceived Jesus.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:32 PM

Ed – I love the correlation to the GEICO commercial… well done.

I love this Gospel for its simplicity, summed up in Mary’s last recorded words in the Gospels: “Do whatever He tell you.”

dpduq on January 17, 2016 at 11:35 PM

Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant because her womb held the Word of God made Flesh, our High Priest forever, and the Bread from Heaven. (The Ark of the Old Covenant held the tablets of the Word of God, the top of the high priest Aaron’s rod and a pot of Manna.)

Good grief, I gotta get to bed…but I have to say something here…

Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant because, as you rightly say, she carried and birthed the Messiah, the Son of God. And through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God formed a “new covenant” with all mankind.

The Ark of the Old Covenant contained the Ten Commandments tablets. But Christ only fulfilled Mosaic Law, and the Commandments were and still are valid.

As for the original Ark containing anything but the tablets, it’s all pretty much hearsay. Some believe, as you do, that one or more other relics likely share the Ark, such as Aaron’s Rod, manna (we really don’t know for sure what manna really was exactly), the Spear of Destiny (used to make the wounds of Christ’s torso as He hung dead on the cross), and nails used on Christ’s hands and feet on the cross. But there’s really no solid evidence that anything other than the Ten Commandments are in there.

This is significant when reading what jetboy wrote about Revelation 12 and “the woman clothed with the sun.” Apocalyptic writing means several things at the same time and can have several valid interpretations. The woman is the Church. The woman is Israel.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Each book contained in scripture must be interpreted under various criteria to ascertain their true meaning. There cannot be several interpretations of any book of the bible, even Revelation. There can only be one valid interpretation.

Case in point: You interpret my quote from Revelation as the woman being The Church. Frankly, I’d love to know how you come to that conclusion. Catholics interpret the same quote as the woman being Mary. That’s a huge difference in interpretation…and both interpretations cannot possibly be correct.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:44 PM

I’d have to say it seems to be reading a lot of stuff into a few verses that isn’t there. I understand Catholic places a lot of emphasis on it’s tradition and my take would be that it’s some retro-exegesis to support a tradition. In the history of the the Immaculate Conception idea, it didn’t become a doctrine until December 8, 1854. My personal thinking would be how could they not know such a (to them) foundational, important truth for a millennium plus some 800 years?

I use like criteria on things that Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons and others hold as doctrine, I’m not just pickin’ on Catholic folk, I get along with ’em pretty well and would also disagree with most Protestant folks on any number of things. (But I try not to be too disagreeable.)

On the lighter side, here’s a Saint’s Name Generator for ya:
http://saintsnamegenerator.com/index.php

whatcat on January 17, 2016 at 11:17 PM

No worries. It’s an interesting discussion.

SDA’s are veheently anti-Catholic, just for the record. For example they believe the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon”. Mormons are kind of in a league of their own.

I now you’re not targeting Catholicism or Catholics just for the sake of doing so. It’s frustrating when the term “Christian” is so often used to consolidating all of Christianity. The differences between Catholicism and Protestantism on some things can be pretty huge. And then there’s differences among the thousands of Protestant denominations.

Cheers, I’ll check in when I get up. Cheers!

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:54 PM

Christ didn’t consider Peter to be Satan when he said that. Christ was telling His apostles that He must go to Jerusalem to suffer at the hands of the high priests, be put to death, and rise on the third day.

That’s more or less my point. That if a verse is viewed through a specific lens, it’ll be seen through the prescribed lens. In other words, a church could be based on Peter being Satan if a verse or two are grabbed out of context and without consideration of tempora, mores and vernacular. Most churches/denominations are guilty of it to a greater or lessor degree (“proof-texting”).

The papal line, as I said, is fully documented

I’d be interested in seeing it laid out by a non-Church historian, if you have something along that line to pass along.

Yes, but there’s more than one Greek vocabulary here. The more modern Greek that Protestants use for translation, and an older Greek that was in use closest to the time the gospels were written. And they can be very different when using one over the other in translation. The Catholic Church relied on the appropriate older Greek vocabulary in translating.

Interestingly enough, on the “church” question, when you go to older Greek, that is Classical Greek ( i.e. Attic-Athenian dialect)- you find the same term. It simply means a gathering of people, e.g. a public assembly. The literal word-for-word meaning in both Attic and common biblical (Koine) Greek means a group of people called out to meet someplace.
Some background:
http://ancienthistory.about.com/od/greekpolitics/p/Ecclesia.htm

I sez:”All believers who who trust in Christ are considered as part of his church (Big or little “C”), no matter, or sometimes in spite of, which church they attend.”

Says who? Where in scripture does it even remotely mentions “trust in Christ” is all that matters?

Probably the best known (due to field goal signs) scripture:
John 3:16 –
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

Or that it doesn’t matter if thousands of different Christian faiths are seemingly meaningless?

I don’t know about “meaningless” but no one should depend on any denomination for their eternal status. I’m comfortable visiting pretty much any church, with maybe a few exception. Candlelight Christmas Eve Mass at a Catholic Church is a great experience, though I pass on the taking the host (not beinf Catholic).

It seems you’re suggesting that if you call yourself a Christian, that’s good enough.

It’s good enough for me. It’s God that people have to worry about that way. He will separate the wheat from the weeds when the time comes.

whatcat on January 17, 2016 at 11:55 PM

SDA’s are veheently anti-Catholic, just for the record. For example they believe the Catholic Church is the “Whore of Babylon”. Mormons are kind of in a league of their own.

Oh, yeah. Some aren’t bad at all, but I’ve seen more than my share of ferocious digs at Catholics by SDAers

I now you’re not targeting Catholicism or Catholics just for the sake of doing so. It’s frustrating when the term “Christian” is so often used to consolidating all of Christianity. The differences between Catholicism and Protestantism on some things can be pretty huge. And then there’s differences among the thousands of Protestant denominations.

Cheers, I’ll check in when I get up. Cheers!

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:54 PM

The only time that bothers me is when a denomination is essentially a PAC with “a little Jesus sprinkled on top”. Have a good night!

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:00 AM

It was not “formally declared to be infallible” doctrine until 1854, but the belief was around from the beginning.

From when? And whom believed it? Not being snarky, just curious.

All Christians, both East and West, believed Mary was sinless. Given a singular grace. The Eastern Christians (both Catholic and Orthodox) believe she was infused with grace at that moment. Western Christians (both Catholic and early Protestants) believed that original sin was removed from her soul, at the moment of her conception, not beforehand.

I think it would be difficult to say what all Christians believed, there were a lot of nasty theological food fights going on. But if you’re speaking of what they came up with 1000 or more years after Christ there would be more accuracy on very specific groups of Christians.

You will not find any early Christian writings that talk about Mary sinning. It is an ancient Christian belief. Not from 1865
Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:29 PM

I don’t know why such things would even be written in the first place – I mean who makes lists of human foibles and failings, We don’t know the sins of a lot of biblical characters.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:21 AM

Love and miss you, DK. Waves.

pambi on January 18, 2016 at 12:29 AM

From when? And whom believed it? Not being snarky, just curious.
whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:21 AM

.
Martin Luther for one, early 16th century, believed deeply in Mary the Mother of God…..quite devoted in fact, and no where did he refute or condemn The Assumption of Mary, (and he protested quite a bit back then) yet had given Feast Day sermons proclaiming it.
Very interesting for a Sola Scriptura guy………

FlaMurph on January 18, 2016 at 12:32 AM

From when? And whom believed it? Not being snarky, just curious.
whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:21 AM

.
Martin Luther for one, early 16th century, believed deeply in Mary the Mother of God…..quite devoted in fact, and no where did he refute or condemn The Assumption of Mary, (and he protested quite a bit back then) yet had given Feast Day sermons proclaiming it.
Very interesting for a Sola Scriptura guy………

FlaMurph on January 18, 2016 at 12:32 AM

That’s all well and good, but I was inquiring about Elisa’s comment that “the belief was around from the beginning”. I expect ol’ Martin isn’t in the “beginning” category.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 1:12 AM

Love and miss you, DK. Waves.
.
pambi on January 18, 2016 at 12:29 AM

.
DITTOS . . . . . (jumpin’ up ‘n’ down, waving frantically)

listens2glenn on January 18, 2016 at 1:22 AM

I went back and read some of the posts, to date.
.
( Heavy sigh ) . . . . .

listens2glenn on January 18, 2016 at 1:29 AM

Good grief, I gotta get to bed…but I have to say something here…

Mary is considered the Ark of the New Covenant because, as you rightly say, she carried and birthed the Messiah, the Son of God. And through Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, God formed a “new covenant” with all mankind.

The Ark of the Old Covenant contained the Ten Commandments tablets. But Christ only fulfilled Mosaic Law, and the Commandments were and still are valid.

As for the original Ark containing anything but the tablets, it’s all pretty much hearsay. Some believe, as you do, that one or more other relics likely share the Ark, such as Aaron’s Rod, manna (we really don’t know for sure what manna really was exactly), the Spear of Destiny (used to make the wounds of Christ’s torso as He hung dead on the cross), and nails used on Christ’s hands and feet on the cross. But there’s really no solid evidence that anything other than the Ten Commandments are in there.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:44 PM

Absolutely, that is why Mary is the Ark of the New Covenant. The Old Ark held the Old Covenant and the New Ark held the New Covenant. That is obvious. I was just explaining to our friend here Biblical facts that point to that and to Mary being crafted by God in a special way.

It is a fact that the Ark of the Old Covenant, besides Moses’ tables, held the top of Aaron (the high priest’s) rod and a pot of manna because the Bible tells us that.

Hebrews 9:3-4:

Behind the second veil was the tabernacle called the Holy of Holies,
in which were the gold altar of incense and the ark of the covenant entirely covered with gold. In it were the gold jar containing the manna, the staff of Aaron that had sprouted, and the tablets of the covenant.

I never heard of any story that says that someone knew where the Ark was in Jesus’ day and that they put in his crucifixion nails and spear. As you said that is folklore and I wouldn’t believe that.

As you know, Mary being the Ark of the New Covenant was one of the first titles that Christians gave to Mary in the first few centuries. Along with the New Eve and Theotokos, God bearer, Mother of God.

There are other parallels in Scripture between the New and Old Arks, if anyone is interested.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 8:04 AM

This is significant when reading what jetboy wrote about Revelation 12 and “the woman clothed with the sun.” Apocalyptic writing means several things at the same time and can have several valid interpretations. The woman is the Church. The woman is Israel.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Each book contained in scripture must be interpreted under various criteria to ascertain their true meaning. There cannot be several interpretations of any book of the bible, even Revelation. There can only be one valid interpretation.

Case in point: You interpret my quote from Revelation as the woman being The Church. Frankly, I’d love to know how you come to that conclusion. Catholics interpret the same quote as the woman being Mary. That’s a huge difference in interpretation…and both interpretations cannot possibly be correct.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:44 PM

My friend, What I said about Revelation 11:19 (the Ark of the New Covenant in the Heavens) immediately followed in the next Biblical sentence by Revelation 12 (“the woman clothed with the sun”) was to agree with you and reinforce what you were saying.

I said, the plain meaning of Revelation 12 was that it was about Mary and Jesus. That is traditional ancient Catholic and Orthodox theology since at least the time of St. Augustine.

But traditional Catholic/Orthodox theology on this passage also says that the woman is a symbol of the Church (the 12 stars being the 12 Apostles) and of Israel (the 12 stars being the 12 tribes of Israel.) Also, the stars, moon and sun are in a vision of Joseph in Genesis, pointing to Israel, and the Church is the New Israel. Also, Mary is the mother of the Church.

Saints and Popes have written about all these interpretations. Including Pope Benedict.

Catholics believe all those interpretations, all at the same time. We just don’t believe in any modern day end times/Rapture theology from the 1800’s that many Christians believe today.

Apocalyptic writing can validly theologically mean several things on several levels. It’s not like other books of the Bible. Revelation and Daniel are different types of books and are to be read and interpreted differently.

God bless you.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 8:09 AM

How sad. Just as I feared, the discussion became all about Mary who is only incidental to the real meaning of this passage.

It isn’t about Mary but about the New Birth.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 8:48 AM

From when? And whom believed it? Not being snarky, just curious.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:21 AM

During the first few centuries of the Church, Christians East and West spoke of Mary’s “purity” and “holiness.” They spoke of the Ark of the New Covenant. Later they became more specific as to her sinlessness.

Some early writers spoke of Mary having human imperfections and making human mistakes, but not that she actually sinned. Making a mistake in judgment, not understanding something fully or even knocking over a pail of water is not sin. I think a couple who were not fully orthodox Saints may have given their own personal doubts as to her sinlessness, maybe not, not sure, but they were not saying it was the teaching of the Church.

Here are some quotes that came a bit later, but still early on.

Remember, a theological belief can be widespread or universal, yet not be formally detailed, discussed or declared until later. A detailed development of a theology doesn’t make it a new theology.

“He was the ark formed of incorruptible wood. For by this is signified that His tabernacle was exempt from putridity and corruption.”
Hippolytus,Orat. Inillud, Dominus pascit me(ante A.D. 235),in ULL,94

“This Virgin Mother of the Only-begotten of God, is called Mary, worthy of God, immaculate of the immaculate, one of the one.”
Origen,Homily 1(A.D. 244),in ULL,94

“Let woman praise Her, the pure Mary.”
Ephraim,Hymns on the Nativity,15:23(A.D. 370),in NPNF2,XIII:254

“Thou alone and thy Mother are in all things fair, there is no flaw in thee and no stain in thy Mother.”
“Ephraem,Nisibene Hymns,27:8(A.D. 370),in THEO,132

“Mary, a Virgin not only undefiled but a Virgin whom grace has made inviolate, free of every stain of sin.”
Ambrose,Sermon 22:30(A.D. 388),in JUR,II:166

“We must except the Holy Virgin Mary, concerning whom I wish to raise no question when it touches the subject of sins, out of honour to the Lord; for from Him we know what abundance of grace for overcoming sin in every particular was conferred upon her who had the merit to conceive and bear Him who undoubtedly had no sin.”
Augustine,Nature and Grace,42[36](A.D.415),in NPNF1,V:135

God bless you and have a good day.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 8:57 AM

How sad. Just as I feared, the discussion became all about Mary who is only incidental to the real meaning of this passage.

It isn’t about Mary but about the New Birth.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 8:48 AM

There is alot in this passage and it isn’t just about Mary. On that you are correct.

But it does speak to Mary’s Christianity.

As I said before, Mary is the quintessential Christian that we should emulate. As this passage shows, she shows us how to pray to God. She doesn’t tell God to do what she wants done to fix a situation in her life. She simply presents the situation to Him. “They have no more wine.” Not “can you get them more wine?”

She trusts Him.

And the most important thing about Mary is that she ALWAYS points to Christ. She always tell us, “do whatever He tells you.”

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Lively thread this week.

The Catholic Church compiled the bible.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 6:21 PM

For such a short sentence, there’s a lot in there that is problematic.

It suggests that the Council of Trent were the deciders in what writings were to be included and which were not. I believe that God decided. If the Bible is the word of God, then it cannot be any other way. That means that the Catholic contribution to the canonical bible is that they were dutiful scribes who listened to and obeyed the direction of the Holy Spirit. Help me understand if, in your perspective, I am wrong.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM

As I said before, Mary is the quintessential Christian that we should emulate. As this passage shows, she shows us how to pray to God. She doesn’t tell God to do what she wants done to fix a situation in her life. She simply presents the situation to Him. “They have no more wine.” Not “can you get them more wine?”

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Matthew 6:9-13

I don’t think that asking Mary to intercede for you in prayer is harmful. I think that worshipping her and making idols of her is damnable. I also think that the problem most non-Catholics have with the “Hail Mary” doctrine is that is smacks of straining at gnats and swallowing camels.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM

But then, ironically, you shift the focus OFF Christ and onto Mary.

Ask yourself why, when she says to Him, “They have no wine” He references His crucifixion.

Mary, historically, is peripheral to this passage.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 9:51 AM

Case in point: You interpret my quote from Revelation as the woman being The Church. Frankly, I’d love to know how you come to that conclusion. Catholics interpret the same quote as the woman being Mary. That’s a huge difference in interpretation…and both interpretations cannot possibly be correct.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:44 PM

God’s word is rife with symbolism. Symbolism is a useful tool because it invokes a multi-layered context. Different meanings ascribed to the same symbol can all be true. Jesus loved to use parables, which are a narrative form of the same concept. There is the clear meaning, which is simple enough that anyone can grasp it, but it hides the deeper meaning. While I’m still relatively new to Bible scholarship, my experience tells me that often the first veiled meaning isn’t the whole veiled meaning, which is true of the Bible as a whole. Every time you read the Bible, God reveals new things.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 10:01 AM

I also think that the problem most non-Catholics have with the “Hail Mary” doctrine is that is smacks of straining at gnats and swallowing camels.
Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM

Correct. It becomes a cosmic red herring, a distraction.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 10:36 AM

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:46 AM

I agree with you that any Catholic or Orthodox Christian who worships Mary or makes idols out of her statues is wrong. They have taken proper Mary veneration and prayer to an extreme that is in error.

99% of Catholics and Orthodox do not do that.

I really have no idea what the camel and gnat thing means. I’m sorry.

God bless you.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:00 AM

But then, ironically, you shift the focus OFF Christ and onto Mary.

Ask yourself why, when she says to Him, “They have no wine” He references His crucifixion.

Mary, historically, is peripheral to this passage.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 9:51 AM

Mary is a big part of that passage and part of Christ’s work here on earth. There is no getting around that.

The reason I posted about Mary at all here is because I read some incorrect things on the previous page about Catholic beliefs about Mary.

He does reference His crucifixion and the passage is also talking about the Church being His bride and a glimpse of the Eucharist in there too. Many things.

One interesting thing is that this is the beginning of His earthly ministry. And He respectfully addresses Mary as “Woman” in it. At the end of His earthly ministry on the cross (also in John’s Gospel) He also respectfully (and lovingly) addresses Mary as “Woman.”

She is “the woman” of the Bible. The New Eve. The “woman clothed with the sun.” Beginning and end. In Genesis and Revelation. We see the old Eve with the serpent and God saying her “seed with crush” his head. The one who crushed his head was Jesus. We see the new Eve with the same serpent (per Rev chap 12 it’s the same serpent.)

The Bible has such depth and symmetry. I know you agree with that.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:11 AM

The Catholic Church compiled the bible.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 6:21 PM

For such a short sentence, there’s a lot in there that is problematic.

It suggests that the Council of Trent were the deciders in what writings were to be included and which were not. I believe that God decided. If the Bible is the word of God, then it cannot be any other way. That means that the Catholic contribution to the canonical bible is that they were dutiful scribes who listened to and obeyed the direction of the Holy Spirit. Help me understand if, in your perspective, I am wrong.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Catholics believe it was the Holy Spirit who wrote the Bible through men and who also used men to recognize His Word and pass it on and in the 4th century council He used the Bishops of the Church to codify what was Scriptural and what wasn’t. That list from the 4th century hasn’t changed for Catholics till this day. Trent just formally declared the official list from the 4th century infallible.

While the 4 Gospels and St. Paul’s writings were universally recognized at Scriptural and while there were some lists of books, it wasn’t until the 4th century that the final list was codified. There were a couple earlier ones that had a close list of books, but none exactly.

There were writings (and Gospel passages) that were widely considered Scriptural, but not universally. Good writings, not heretical Gnostic ones. Some made it into the final canon and some didn’t.

It was by the Holy Spirit’s guidance that the Bishops decided this in the 4th century councils.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:16 AM

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 9:40 AM

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:16 AM

Just as an example, if the Bishops in the 4th century councils had decided differently, the Bible you hold in your hands today might not have Hebrews. Instead it might have the Letter of Barnabas. Or have both books or neither.

Both were widely, but not universally considered Scriptural for the first few centuries.

The Holy Spirit worked through the Bishops.

Also, these Gospel passages were widely, but not universally considered Scriptural. Not in early manuscripts. Those Bishops in those councils followed the Holy Spirit and after that century it was final and decided. Read at all Christian Masses.

Can you imagine our Bibles today without them?

Luke 22:43-44:

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.

John 7:53 to 8:11:

Then each went to his own house,

while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”

Mark 16:9-20:

When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.

(But) later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

It’s always good to read your comments, even when I don’t agree with them.

God bless you.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:26 AM

Mary is a big part of that passage and part of Christ’s work here on earth. There is no getting around that.

She is “the woman” of the Bible. The New Eve. The “woman clothed with the sun.” Beginning and end.
Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:11 AM

No. She. Is. Not.!!!!!! The CHURCH is the “woman” of the Bible, of which, in this passage, she is merely a representative figure.

I hate to put it this way but this is idolatry. Taking a symbol and elevating it higher than it is intended and making IT the focus and taking the focus off of Christ.

Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Christ absolutely referred to His Church as “big C” and not “little c”. Christ said “Church” as singular, not “Churches” in the plural. Of course this doesn’t mean that Catholics believe all non-Catholic Christians are doomed to condemnation…we absolutely acknowledge that one need not be Catholic in order to be saved. It’s what’s in your heart that is important, and what you do on this Earth. (Yeah, I know…but “faith and works” is another topic for another day).

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Then why do so many RCs criticize Protestants who say the same – why the urge to tack on Catholic dogma which is by your own admission, unnecessary for salvation?

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 12:09 PM

if the Bishops in the 4th century councils had decided differently, the Bible you hold in your hands today might not have Hebrews.
Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:26 AM

The bible that Catholics hold in their hands is not the one that most others have, as it contains books (the apocrypha) that the Jews also rejected.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Mary has a relationship with each Person of the Holy Trinity.

…She is the spouse of God the Holy Spirit.

Elisa on January 17, 2016 at 10:39 PM

Mary was betrothed to Joseph, so she was the spouse of Joseph.

tiptopsaidhe on January 18, 2016 at 3:18 PM

Taking a symbol and elevating it higher than it is intended and making IT the focus and taking the focus off of Christ.
Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 12:05 PM

Taking the Focus off Christ ??? The focus never leaves Christ.
And if symbolism carries that much weight in and above the Faith, than we are on rather contradictory ground to begin with. This is exactly the genius of the Bible, that has maintained it through 2000 years. A fair amount of the Gospels contain Jesus’ teaching through Parables, symbols purposefully containing multiple levels of thought. Symbolism is used to provoke thought and to expand thinking- in doing so the Author has a desired need for a symbolic aspect for what is written-rather than just spell it out. Even in stories, like Cana, we all agree to its multiple dimensional meanings and for why this is purposed this way. That’s how much of the Bible teaches – antithetical to a narrow, focused meaning or point of view.

The Woman in Rev 12, as Pope Benedict recently stated, is “Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but at the same time she also represents the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church which in all ages, with great suffering, brings forth Christ ever anew”

FlaMurph on January 18, 2016 at 3:45 PM

I really have no idea what the camel and gnat thing means. I’m sorry.

God bless you.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:04 AM

Matthew 23:23-24 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

God bless you as well. I love these verses, because they so eloquently warn Christians against making fetishes of small things while neglecting the big things. This is human nature of course, and by human nature I mean it is an aspect of free will that the Devil uses against us, because we find it so very difficult to resist.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 4:53 PM

The bible that Catholics hold in their hands is not the one that most others have, as it contains books (the apocrypha) that the Jews also rejected.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:30 PM

The books you refer to are considered deuterocanonical, which I believe translates roughly into “late” or “second” canon, and were actually included in the original King James Bible published in 1611, but were not considered infallible scripture by the scholars/translators of the KJV. Like you said, they aren’t in the Jewish canon, but they are in the Septuagint.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 5:04 PM

Yeah, I’m aware of the history of scriptural canon. I was just pointing out that Catholics have a different bible.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 6:51 PM

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

God bless you as well. I love these verses, because they so eloquently warn Christians against making fetishes of small things while neglecting the big things. This is human nature of course, and by human nature I mean it is an aspect of free will that the Devil uses against us, because we find it so very difficult to resist.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 4:53 PM

It goes with the “perceiving a speck in another’s eye while having a log in your own” teaching. An interesting view on that is your “log” would not have to be larger than the other guy’s “speck”, but perspective comes into play (your speck being so close) – so that your “speck” acts as a “log” obscuring much of your vision.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Catholics believe it was the Holy Spirit who wrote the Bible through men and who also used men to recognize His Word and pass it on and in the 4th century council He used the Bishops of the Church to codify what was Scriptural and what wasn’t. That list from the 4th century hasn’t changed for Catholics till this day. Trent just formally declared the official list from the 4th century infallible.

While the 4 Gospels and St. Paul’s writings were universally recognized at Scriptural and while there were some lists of books, it wasn’t until the 4th century that the final list was codified. There were a couple earlier ones that had a close list of books, but none exactly.

There were writings (and Gospel passages) that were widely considered Scriptural, but not universally. Good writings, not heretical Gnostic ones. Some made it into the final canon and some didn’t.

It was by the Holy Spirit’s guidance that the Bishops decided this in the 4th century councils.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:16 AM

I’d have to agree with everything you said there. Although instead of saying the Holy Spirit wrote the bible, but spoke through the prophets, and as you said, guided the early Church in compiling a concise and scripture-worthy bible.

Just to add: One of my favorite books from the bible is from the so-called Apocrypha texts rejected by most Protestants. That is Sirach. It really played a part in my own soul-searching and dealing with the truly important things in life.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 8:42 PM

Christ absolutely referred to His Church as “big C” and not “little c”. Christ said “Church” as singular, not “Churches” in the plural. Of course this doesn’t mean that Catholics believe all non-Catholic Christians are doomed to condemnation…we absolutely acknowledge that one need not be Catholic in order to be saved. It’s what’s in your heart that is important, and what you do on this Earth. (Yeah, I know…but “faith and works” is another topic for another day).

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Then why do so many RCs criticize Protestants who say the same – why the urge to tack on Catholic dogma which is by your own admission, unnecessary for salvation?

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 12:09 PM

One need not be Catholic to be saved…but there are certain criteria that need to be met. Even the early Church Fathers, although clear on the “one, true Church”, did affirm that there are certain exceptions to that. Those non-Catholic Christians, through no vindictiveness to the RC Church remain in love and acceptance of Christ will surely be able to achieve salvation.

But those who accept the schism and Reformation who knowingly reject divinely revealed doctrine of the Catholic Church will not be saved unless and until they reject their heresy and return to the one, true Catholic Church. In no way does the Catholic view of salvation outside The Church mean that any non-Catholic Christian can or will be saved.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:10 PM

But those who accept the schism and Reformation who knowingly reject divinely revealed doctrine of the Catholic Church will not be saved unless and until they reject their heresy and return to the one, true Catholic Church.
JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:10 PM

Well, there are exceptions for nice non-believers.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

we absolutely acknowledge that one need not be Catholic in order to be saved. It’s what’s in your heart that is important, and what you do on this Earth.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 9:11 PM

Then why do so many RCs criticize Protestants who say the same – why the urge to tack on Catholic dogma which is by your own admission, unnecessary for salvation?

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 12:09 PM

One need not be Catholic to be saved…but

Doesn’t this really say it all? :D

But, there’s more…

there are certain criteria that need to be met. Even the early Church Fathers, although clear on the “one, true Church”, did affirm that there are certain exceptions to that. Those non-Catholic Christians, through no vindictiveness to the RC Church remain in love and acceptance of Christ will surely be able to achieve salvation.

But those who accept the schism and Reformation who knowingly reject divinely revealed doctrine of the Catholic Church will not be saved unless and until they reject their heresy and return to the one, true Catholic Church. In no way does the Catholic view of salvation outside The Church mean that any non-Catholic Christian can or will be saved.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:10 PM

So IOW, if you reject the RCC’s self-claimed authority, you can’t be saved no matter what’s in your heart and no matter how much your faith resembles Abraham’s, which existed before there was any RCC, correct? LOL :D

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM

Matthew 23:23-24 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.

God bless you as well. I love these verses, because they so eloquently warn Christians against making fetishes of small things while neglecting the big things. This is human nature of course, and by human nature I mean it is an aspect of free will that the Devil uses against us, because we find it so very difficult to resist.
Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 4:53 PM

No. She. Is. Not.!!!!!! The CHURCH is the “woman” of the Bible, of which, in this passage, she is merely a representative figure.
I hate to put it this way but this is idolatry. Taking a symbol and elevating it higher than it is intended and making IT the focus and taking the focus off of Christ.
Cleombrotus on January 18, 2016 at 12:05 PM

I’m sorry, guys. But I still don’t see how any of this (Matthew 23, putting more emphasis on small matters than the large ones of faith, true worship and faith, idolatry, etc) has anything to do with what I said, what I believe, what I do when I prayer to Our Blessed Mother (who I love) or what 99% of Catholics and Orthodox believe and pray.

You are projecting false beliefs on us because you don’t agree or understand.

And it has absolutely nothing to do with idolatry.

Reflecting on Mary’s life and following her example and meditating on the Scriptures that talk about her do NOT take the focus off of Christ. Mary “magnifies” Christ, per Scripture.

You may choose to ignore her part in this and other Bible passages and may choose to only see the symbolism, but that doesn’t mean you are interpreting correctly. Sometimes there is symbolism, sometimes there isn’t and sometimes (like in this passage) there is both and there are many deep and relevant meanings all at the same time.

All those lessons draw us closer to Him. As does His mother.She always draws any Christian closer to Christ. No matter how close they already are.

By their fruits you shall know them. There are many many Protestants who are closer to Christ than some Catholics and Orthodox. So don’t miss my point here.

My point is that whoever you are and how close you are to Christ, Mary can draw you closer to Christ. It always happens.

I was very close to Christ all my life and never really prayed much to Mary, other than the occasional Hail Mary. When I started praying more to Mary, I became even closer to Christ.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:32 PM

Case in point: You interpret my quote from Revelation as the woman being The Church. Frankly, I’d love to know how you come to that conclusion. Catholics interpret the same quote as the woman being Mary. That’s a huge difference in interpretation…and both interpretations cannot possibly be correct.

JetBoy on January 17, 2016 at 11:44 PM

God’s word is rife with symbolism. Symbolism is a useful tool because it invokes a multi-layered context. Different meanings ascribed to the same symbol can all be true. Jesus loved to use parables, which are a narrative form of the same concept. There is the clear meaning, which is simple enough that anyone can grasp it, but it hides the deeper meaning. While I’m still relatively new to Bible scholarship, my experience tells me that often the first veiled meaning isn’t the whole veiled meaning, which is true of the Bible as a whole. Every time you read the Bible, God reveals new things.

Immolate on January 18, 2016 at 10:01 AM

Absolutely, scripture contains many books, written at different times through different cultures, some are literal, some are symbolism, metaphors, etc. But at the end of the day, there can be only one true interpretation of each book. And that’s precisely why there can only be one, true interpreter of divine scripture: The church founded by Christ Himself, and through apostolic succession remains today and through all time as Christ promised, the Catholic Church.

This is why private interpretation of scripture is inherently unreliable. A hundred people could read the bible, and each one of them will interpret it all in different ways. And all of them cannot be correct. It’s the same with the thousands of different Protestant denominations out there…they all teach different doctrine and scriptural interpretation than the rest. And again, they cannot all be correct.

As always, the Catholic Church does acknowledge one need not be Catholic to be saved. But as I mentioned earlier, there are restrictions on that. The whole “one true Church” thing isn’t some attempt by the Catholic Church to put down or pressure non-Catholic Christians…it’s been revealed by God through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In the words of Ignatius of Antioch: “Take care, then, to use one Eucharist, so that whatever you do, you do according to God: For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup in the union of his blood; one altar, as there is one bishop, with the presbytery and my fellow servants, the deacons”

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:34 PM

The bible that Catholics hold in their hands is not the one that most others have, as it contains books (the apocrypha) that the Jews also rejected.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Not that numbers matter to truth, but most have the Bible that contains those 7 Old Testament books. There are more practicing Catholics and Orthodox than practicing Protestants. Even ruling out the numbers on all sides that don’t practice.

About the Septuagint and those 7 OT books. They were used in the early Church and during the time of Christ. The same Bible canon from the 4th century was what was considered Scriptural by all Christians from that time until 500 years ago when Martin Luther first took them out of the Bible.

Jews during Christ’s time has several canons, the Septuagint being the most popular. Later Sadducee Jews, in part to regain their Jewishness against the new sect of Christians and because they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, rejected those books and rejected the new books that Christians used, that became the New Testament.

It doesn’t matter what Jews believed or did decades and centuries AFTER Christ.

It should also be noted that it was Palistinian and European Jews that rejected the Septuagint books.

Jews in Ethiopian continued to use them until this very day.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, the New Testament you hold in your hand contains the canon from those very same 4th century Bishop councils, where the Holy Spirit used them.

I repeat to you, what I said to Immolate.

Just as an example, if the Bishops in the 4th century councils had decided differently, the Bible you hold in your hands today might not have Hebrews. Instead it might have the Letter of Barnabas. Or have both books or neither.

Both were widely, but not universally considered Scriptural for the first few centuries.

The Holy Spirit worked through the Bishops.

Also, these Gospel passages were widely, but not universally considered Scriptural. Not in early manuscripts. Those Bishops in those councils followed the Holy Spirit and after that century it was final and decided. Read at all Christian Masses.

Can you imagine our Bibles today without them?

Luke 22:43-44:

And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him. He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.

John 7:53 to 8:11:

Then each went to his own house,

while Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.But early in the morning he arrived again in the temple area, and all the people started coming to him, and he sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery and made her stand in the middle.
They said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they could have some charge to bring against him.
Jesus bent down and began to write on the ground with his finger. But when they continued asking him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he bent down and wrote on the ground. And in response, they went away one by one, beginning with the elders.
So he was left alone with the woman before him. Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She replied, “No one, sir.” Then Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more.”

Mark 16:9-20:

When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form to two of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them either.

(But) later, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will drive out demons, they will speak new languages. They will pick up serpents (with their hands), and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not harm them. They will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

So then the Lord Jesus, after he spoke to them, was taken up into heaven and took his seat at the right hand of God. But they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word through accompanying signs.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:41 PM

…the RCC’s self-claimed authority

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM

Umm, no.

The RC Church is a direct extension of our Lord Jesus Christ’s authority.

Watch: Why Am I Catholic

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:49 PM

The bible that Catholics hold in their hands is not the one that most others have, as it contains books (the apocrypha) that the Jews also rejected.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 12:30 PM

Not that numbers matter to truth, but most have the Bible that contains those 7 Old Testament books. There are more practicing Catholics and Orthodox than practicing Protestants. Even ruling out the numbers on all sides that don’t practice.

You missed by point even though you highlighted the relevant part – i.e. there are the Catholics and there are the “most others” (non-Catholic Christians). Two different animals.

It doesn’t matter what Jews believed or did decades and centuries AFTER Christ.

Not being mean, but I apply the same criteria to the Catholic Church(or any other group) that comes up with something centuries after Christ. But obviously, since I’m not Catholic, I don’t need to give it any credence.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 10:08 PM

But those who accept the schism and Reformation who knowingly reject divinely revealed doctrine of the Catholic Church will not be saved unless and until they reject their heresy and return to the one, true Catholic Church.
JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:10 PM

Well, there are exceptions for nice non-believers.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 9:20 PM

Yes…I’m well aware of Pope Francis’ comments on atheists saying that Catholics and atheists can be…quote…“precious allies…to defend the dignity of man, in the building of a peaceful coexistence between peoples and in the careful protection of creation”

The Vatican followed up on the Pope’s statements since they kind of exploded on social media. This is part of that statement:

(The) Roman Catholic view on the salvation of non-Catholics, including non-believers, (is) that 1) “they cannot be saved who, knowing the Church as founded by Christ and necessary for salvation, would refuse to enter her or remain in her,” as well as the idea that, 2) “According to this document those who have not yet received the gospel and this without any fault of their own are given the possibility of eternal salvation…God ‘in the unknown ways’ of his grace can give the faith without which there is no salvation even to those who have not yet heard the preaching of the gospel.”

Pope Francis’ statement was blown out of proportion. What he said, again, is nothing new in Catholic doctrine.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 10:14 PM

…the RCC’s self-claimed authority

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 9:21 PM

Umm, no.

The RC Church is a direct extension of our Lord Jesus Christ’s authority.

Watch: Why Am I Catholic

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:49 PM

What do you mean, “Umm, no,”? :D

The RCC makes the claim for itself that it has the correct line to God, and that those who dispute their claim are speaking falsely/satanically, which is the M.O. of every exclusionary “Christian” organization… It’s kind of hard to have a constructive discussion here if you are going to deny this, isn’t it? :)

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” -Luke 10:25-28

That was the path to salvation before any denominations/sacraments existed; that path hasn’t changed since.

The truth is, what’s in my heart and the nature of my faith are secondary to groups like the RCC, which place their complicated and unnecessary religious dogmas first; what Jesus said to that lawyer is too easy and not good enough for them.

When it comes to salvation, I’ll listen to Him directly and disdain any wannabe meddlers, if you don’t mind! :D

Anti-ControI on January 18, 2016 at 10:21 PM

It doesn’t matter what Jews believed or did decades and centuries AFTER Christ.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 9:41 PM

Not being mean, but I apply the same criteria to the Catholic Church(or any other group) that comes up with something centuries after Christ. But obviously, since I’m not Catholic, I don’t need to give it any credence.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 10:08 PM

What you said isn’t “mean” but it doesn’t address the point I made at all.

And you didn’t address any of my other valid points at all.

That’s OK with me. All that I said in my last post still stands.

The Old Testament canon used by Catholics today was used by the writers of the New Testament and the first Christians.

Good night and God bless.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 10:42 PM

Just to add: One of my favorite books from the bible is from the so-called Apocrypha texts rejected by most Protestants. That is Sirach. It really played a part in my own soul-searching and dealing with the truly important things in life.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 8:42 PM

Sirach is beautiful. As is Wisdom.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 10:46 PM

Pope Francis’ statement was blown out of proportion. What he said, again, is nothing new in Catholic doctrine.

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 10:14 PM

That’s my point, it’s doctrine, not just him going off. He has a definition of sin from that of the bible:
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

That’s all well and good, albeit unbiblical, until you consider that everything Charles Manson did was totally right in his conscience – “sinless” by Frankie’s criteria. Same with a whole lotta notorious figures. (Don’t make me go Godwin on ya!)
“Let your conscience be your guide” is some of the worst advice anyone can give.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 10:49 PM

He has a definition of sin from that of the bible:
“Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience.”

s/b “that differs from the bible”.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 10:50 PM

The RC Church is a direct extension of our Lord Jesus Christ’s authority.

Watch: Why Am I Catholic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2QliM7ApyiA

JetBoy on January 18, 2016 at 9:49 PM

Thanks, jetboy, so much for linking that video. I haven’t watched it in some years and I looooove it so much.

And it had a picture of Pope Benedict in it. I miss him so much. He was my favorite Pope of my 56 years. Sweet, loving, faith-filled, orthodox and brilliant.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 10:57 PM

That’s all well and good, albeit unbiblical, until you consider that everything Charles Manson did was totally right in his conscience – “sinless” by Frankie’s criteria. Same with a whole lotta notorious figures. (Don’t make me go Godwin on ya!)
“Let your conscience be your guide” is some of the worst advice anyone can give.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 10:49 PM

You have no idea if Manson or any other monster was “following his conscience” or thought he was doing right.

Most monsters and great sinners also lie and act.

Only God can read the hearts and minds of men. Many men ignore and squash their conscience.

Others lie or or pretend they don’t think they are sinning.

Some may be nuts, but many of them still may have had that little voice telling them it was wrong and ignored it.

God knows who has ignored or rejected Him and sinned and who hasn’t.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:00 PM

Good night all and God bless you and your families.

May we all be drawn by His grace closer to His Sacred Heart.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:03 PM

And you didn’t address any of my other valid points at all.

That’s OK with me. All that I said in my last post still stands.

I could have taken them all apart, but it’s the same bottom line; you believe what your Church says. Which isn’t exactly an unusual phenomena, a lot of people believe their denomination’s doctrines. I can point out the problems in depth but it makes no difference, people have to investigate alll such things with an open mind. That would mean unfiltered by any given doctrinal lens.

For example, I could rationally explain to a devout Mormon why the “Book of Abraham” is a fraud. But it would be to no avail. The problem is devotees of whatever religion get stuck in in what could be called “an authorataive circular reasoning loop”. This would be equally true of unwavering Southern Baptists, fervent Pentacostals or whatever.
So it’s an exercise in futility.

Or, to cite from a “small g” good book:
“Why prove to a man he is wrong? Is that going to make him like you? Why not let him save face? He didn’t ask for your opinion. He didn’t want it. Why argue with him? You can’t win an argument, because if you lose, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Why? You will feel fine. But what about him? You have made him feel inferior, you hurt his pride, insult his intelligence, his judgment, and his self-respect, and he’ll resent your triumph. That will make him strike back, but it will never make him want to change his mind. A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.
-Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People”

Good night and God bless.
Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 10:42 PM

Thanks – you too. I’m glad , though I don’t see eye to eye with you, that you have a strong interest in knowing why you believe, not just what you believe.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 11:24 PM

I could have taken them all apart, but it’s the same bottom line; you believe what your Church says . . .

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 11:24 PM

My post to you wasn’t about Catholic theology.

It was historical facts about the formation of the Bible canon and how the first Christians used the SEptuagint. In particular I pointed out a couple books and Gospel passages and how they came to be or not be in the Bible.

Historical fact is not subject to individual belief. It’s true or it isn’t.

I actually had some of my past writings on this that went into more depth, but I am trying not to post too much.

If you think anything I posted was historically incorrect, please show me from early Church writings on the Bible books where I am wrong.

Facts are facts. I was not talking theology or interpretations in that post to you.

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:32 PM

Thanks – you too. I’m glad , though I don’t see eye to eye with you, that you have a strong interest in knowing why you believe, not just what you believe.

whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 11:24 PM

I too appreciate all Christians who love the Lord and like to learn about Him and the faith. The more we learn, the more we know we have left to know and the more we yearn to learn.

OK, Good night for real this time. lol

Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:36 PM

My post to you wasn’t about Catholic theology.
It was historical facts about the formation of the Bible canon and how the first Christians used the SEptuagint. In particular I pointed out a couple books and Gospel passages and how they came to be or not be in the Bible.
Historical fact is not subject to individual belief. It’s true or it isn’t.
I actually had some of my past writings on this that went into more depth, but I am trying not to post too much.
Elisa on January 18, 2016 at 11:32 PM

As with you, getting into everything would take way too many words and time (esp. at this hour on a Mon eve!)

But for example, this:

Can you imagine our Bibles today without them?
John 7:53 to 8:11

Actually, yes – I can. As I said, it’s a matter of which group think what. This should serve as an indepth splanin’ (and save me a lot of rehashing and retyping):
Does John 7:53—8:11 belong in the Bible?

You’ll find agreement on the points at that link even in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops bible readings:
http://www.usccb.org/bible/john/8#51007053-1
(Though the USCCB includes it despite the very problematic issues.)

Have a nice night, sleep well.

whatcat on January 19, 2016 at 12:33 AM

whatcat on January 19, 2016 at 12:33 AM

Good morning all.

(Minor note about the USCCB link to the New American Bible. Those footnotes are from the NAB, not from the USCCB bishops. The NAB Bible footnotes and commentary sometimes tend to be modernist and liberal.)

I would suggest, whatcat, that you are in the minority of Christians who would not feel saddened not to find those 3 Gospel passages in their Bibles.

I am fully aware of why these were in question during the 4th century. I said so in my original post. They were widely, but not universally accepted as Scriptural and weren’t in some of the early manuscripts.

That is my point exactly. I believe that all the canonical Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit and are the Word of God, no matter if they were written by the original author or added some decades later.

Because I have faith and trust in not only the written Word of God (Sacred Scripture), but also in the oral Word of God (Sacred Tradition.)

Those 3 passages, as well as the books of Hebrews, John 2 and 3, Peter 2, Jude, James and Revelation (all widely, but not universally accepted as Scriptural in the 4th century) are part of my canon of inerrant Scriptures. Part of the canon of Catholics and Orthodox.

They are also part of the canon of the vast majority of Protestants and non-denominationalist.

My point is, how can those who don’t believe in the Holy Spirit have confidence in those books and Gospel passages? Why should any of them ever quote from Revelation or Hebrews, etc?

And if they believe that the Holy Spirit worked correctly just during those several councils during the 4th century on the New Testament canon, why do they doubt the Old Testament canon. Or any other formally declared decision on faith and morals?

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 8:41 AM

Correction on my previous post:

It should have read that the passages weren’t in some EARLY manuscripts. Not “original” manuscripts.

I was typing too fast.

We don’t have the originals to compare to and know. That’s why they were previously in question as to whether or not they were Scriptural. They could could also have been omitted by some transcribers. Or maybe God wanted them added later.

Only God knows when He added them.

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 9:04 AM

Just like I had a reason for adding my later comment, but they are still my thoughts and words

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Those last 2 were my first posts on my new I phone I got last month. I had s flip phone, but now that I am soon to be a grandma (twice) I need a good camera and video to show pictures like my other grandma friends. Lol

I am very blessed. My daughter end of March and daughter in law end of May.

It’s a pain writing posts from the phone. And a pain scrolling down through everything. That annoying woman Elisa has such long posts. Lol.

Have a good day everyone and may God bless you all today

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 9:12 AM

Correction on my correction.

I did write “early” in my first post.

My mistake was omitting “if they don’t believe in the Holy Spririt working through Sacred Tradition. Obviously we all “believe in the Holy Spirit.”

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 9:19 AM

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 9:19 AM

Hi, I don’t have a whole lot more to add, but I’ll have to get back to this later on today. Though this might slide off the front page.

My mistake was omitting “if they don’t believe in the Holy Spririt working through Sacred Tradition. Obviously we all “believe in the Holy Spirit.”

I figured that must have been an error as it didn’t sound quite right.

Congrats on the grandkids. I’m not a granpa, but have a lotta nieces & nephews who’ve made me a great and great-great uncle more times than I can count! Big family. People ask if we were Catholic, I tell them “No, Minnesota winter nights are just long and cold!” :D

I couldn’t type diddly from a phone, only a keyboard that’s close to full-size will do, And even then…..

Have a great day!

whatcat on January 19, 2016 at 10:16 AM

Congrats on the grandkids. I’m not a granpa, but have a lotta nieces & nephews who’ve made me a great and great-great uncle more times than I can count! Big family. People ask if we were Catholic, I tell them “No, Minnesota winter nights are just long and cold!” :D

I couldn’t type diddly from a phone, only a keyboard that’s close to full-size will do, And even then…..

Have a great day!

whatcat on January 19, 2016 at 10:16 AM

Cold night. lol. So funny.

Thanks for the congrats. We are very happy. God willing all goes well.

No rush on getting back. Or getting back at all. I understand. We are all very busy and it’s hard to discuss on here.

I prob also won’t type from my phone much at all. Even reading the website is a pain on the phone.

My husband works from home on Tuesday and other days. So I can only grab the computer for a few minutes here and there.

God bless you, whatcat. It’s nice talking with you.

Elisa on January 19, 2016 at 11:39 AM

We’re finally at the bottom of the column, so in the spirit of my usual “arrogant egocentricity” I say:

Everyone who agrees with me is RIGHT … the rest of you
wrooooooonnnnnnnnnnnng

(last six words spoken with extreme scowl)

.
But even if you can’t bring yourself to agree with that, you should be able to agree with this:

Jesus Is LORD

listens2glenn on January 19, 2016 at 6:53 PM

Wow 170+, go away for a day..…..You Go Girl !
Elisa , you seem to be full of energy starting out this new year- Love that Spunk l

That’s all well and good, but I was inquiring about Elisa’s comment that “the belief was around from the beginning”. I expect ol’ Martin isn’t in the “beginning” category.
whatcat on January 18, 2016 at 1:12 AM

.
Oh I know what you meant. While most of that basis came from the early Christians who wrote of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you want prima facie evidence of a Biblical Immaculate Conception reference that you know doesn’t exist – and therefore conclude Mary’s purity must have earthly bounds. Agreed, there is no Bible verse.
.
“If it’s not found in the Bible, well it can’t be so” is not an applicable mantra. The entire compilation process of the Bible was entrusted to these SAME early Christians writers who fostered and created a Biblia for the world, and so decreed the Canon of the Bible for the Catholic Church. These men are one in the same. Divinely guided to steward a Church for all mankind.
.
On another level, you question a Catholic decreed doctrine 1800 years after the event, but have no issues with a self-absorbed egotistical man revising this same Scripture – that existed for over 1000 years – for his own purposes. ?
.
In that vein, why don’t we ask where in the Bible Jesus said- “hey you guys write this stuff down, I need people to follow this Book or the faithful will be lost” Better yet, Why isn’t Jesus writing anything down to make sure his words aren’t corrupted? If he felt a Book was the solution, why not?….Where did he say “go forth and make Disciples of all nations, and don’t forget to take the book with you?” Or say “hey, write it down, so the Monks will have something to do later on whilst they chant- but don’t get to wordy, – final revision will come out 1500 years from now – and after that everyone will get to print their own Bible.” Christianity is a living thing, so it must grow. And look how it grew for those first 1500 years without a circulated Bible ….amazing.
And while we’re on the Bible, until it was printed- first by Gutenberg containing ALL 73 books- people did not have access to a “Bible” There were thousands of copies of scriptures floating around for the masses. No the sacred scriptures were always kept with the Church and Church scholars- and for years transcribed by Monks one page at a time. For 1500 years THERE WAS NO Bible for the millions of people to parse and split hairs over. How did they manage?? There was the Church, and Scripture with the Sacraments. Together they formed the Faith- together is how God was revealed to them. That was Christianity for the FIRST 1500 years. Are these people any less favored in God’s eyes than us? Are we better Christians than they? Since we are smarter….we must be superior and know better?? …I’m ranting now….
Christianity is a living force, and so it grows. And look how it grew for those first 1500 years without a circulated Bible ….amazing.
.
The Bible for us is the Greatest Story ever told.
.
Not a legal binding document.
As the man say’s- I could be wrong…..but I don’t think so.

FlaMurph on January 19, 2016 at 8:32 PM

While most of that basis came from the early Christians who wrote of the Blessed Virgin Mary, you want prima facie evidence of a Biblical Immaculate Conception reference that you know doesn’t exist – and therefore conclude Mary’s purity must have earthly bounds. Agreed, there is no Bible verse.

FlaMurph on January 19, 2016 at 8:32 PM

Mat 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Doesn’t this mean that Joseph and Mary waited to consummate their marriage vows until after Messiah was born? The word “till” would imply that there was a regular, biblical marriage that brought forth God-fearing children. Yes? No?

To me, Mary gains far more credibility when she is seen as a Godly wife that fulfills God’s intent in marriage to Joseph. Under the covenant of marriage and the power of the Holy Spirit, she would find protection, provision, and the freedom to be a fantastic and beautiful wife to Joseph, as they work through the normal struggles that come with marriage and family. She is called to submit to his headship, to unconditionally respect him, as he is called to unconditional love for her, and they are to provide for the physical needs of each other, so the devil finds no stronghold in their desires. What is more romantic than that?

tiptopsaidhe on January 20, 2016 at 3:21 PM

Mat 1:25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

Doesn’t this mean that Joseph and Mary waited to consummate their marriage vows until after Messiah was born? The word “till” would imply that there was a regular, biblical marriage that brought forth God-fearing children. Yes? No? . . . .

tiptopsaidhe on January 20, 2016 at 3:21 PM

I hope you still see are reading here.

The Greek word in Matthew for until is “heos hou.” Heos hou does not mean that the action in question must cease at some point. Example from Act25:21 about Paul,”I ordered him held until (heos hou) I could send him on to Caesar.

Envoy magazine says,”Now when St. Paul was to be sent on, he was surely going to remain in custody. . .the use of heos hou in this verse does not imply that Paul ceased to be kept in custody after he had been remanded to Caesar. It implies the very opposite.”

Same heos hou used in 2Peter 1:19.

The Bible is filled with the until “heos” alone proving the point. Matthew 28:20 “Behold I am always with you until (heos) the end of the age.” Jesus will still be with us afterwards.

There are countless examples of this.

Something else about “firstborn.”

Luke 2:7
“And she gave birth to her firstborn son”

This passage and the passage in Matthew that says that Joseph had no relations with Mary until Jesus was born are just to stress that Jesus was born of a virgin, like it was foretold in scripture. This was the intent and reason for the passages. It was not to say that Jesus had brothers and sisters later.

I could again tell you that my son is my firstborn son and he is my only son. That firstborn son doesn’t mean there has to be more to follow. But maybe this will explain our beliefs better.

Hebrews 1:1-6

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs.
For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father? Or again, “I will be his Father, and he will be my Son”?
And again, when God brings his FIRSTBORN into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”

So Jesus is also God’s firstborn (not just Mary’s firstborn), but we all know that He was also God’s only begotten Son.

Elisa on January 20, 2016 at 9:28 PM

To me, Mary gains far more credibility when she is seen as a Godly wife that fulfills God’s intent in marriage to Joseph. Under the covenant of marriage and the power of the Holy Spirit, she would find protection, provision, and the freedom to be a fantastic and beautiful wife to Joseph, as they work through the normal struggles that come with marriage and family. She is called to submit to his headship, to unconditionally respect him, as he is called to unconditional love for her, and they are to provide for the physical needs of each other, so the devil finds no stronghold in their desires. What is more romantic than that?

tiptopsaidhe on January 20, 2016 at 3:21 PM

You are talking about Mary’s perpetual virginity. That is different than the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception is talking about Mary’s conception in St. Anne, how “at the moment of” her conception, God preserved her free from sin by the grace and merits of Jesus Christ.

A good wife does not sin by having a physical relationship with her husband. Catholics not only believe that marriage is a sacrament, but that the consummation of that sacrament is in the physical union, part of the “form” of that sacrament.

A woman can still be a Godly wife if for some valid reason she cannot engage in a physical union. While this is a rare thing, there are some medical reasons or physical disabilities of either party. It is the grace, love and respect and being a God fearing woman that make a Godly wife. I’m sure you would agree that we don’t find one Godly wife “far more credible” than the other.

For Mary it was a different situation. Mary still would have been holy if she had a physical relationship with Joseph in marriage. In all other respects, we believe they had a very loving marriage and we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family

Catholics and Orthodox Christians don’t believe Mary was a perpetual virgin because otherwise she would have been sinful. We believe it simply because she was, according to early Tradition.

The reason was because Mary was considered the spouse of the Holy Spirit, her womb was the Holy of Holies that held God Himself.

I am going to post a very interesting article on ancient Hebrew customs and beliefs during the time of Mary and Joseph.

It explains in more detail what is meant in Luke 1:35 when Gabriel tells Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

The root of the word used for “overshadow” is like the Hebrew word used in Ruth 3:9 when it talks of spreading one’s cloak over a woman. Which means to make her his spouse.

Overshadowed is also obviously the same word used in Exodus, when the Shekinah spirit of God “overshadowed” the Ark of the Old Covenant, showing God’s presence there.

Elisa on January 20, 2016 at 9:47 PM

PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY
by Br. Anthony Opisso, M.D.

From the earliest biblical days adultery carried with it a sense of defilement, so that a woman who had know contact with another man, even if by force, was considered no longer fit to be visited by her husband (Genesis 49:4; 2 Samuel 20:3, re ibid. 16:21-22; Book of Jubilees 33:6-9; Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Biblical Talmud, p.51).

The deuteronomic code teaches that a woman who is divorced by her husband and thereafter marries another man likewise cannot return to her former husband (Dt 24:1-4). As the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah: “If a man put away his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, shall he return to her again, shall not the land (his wife’s body) be greatly polluted?” (Jr 3:1; see Targum to Dt 24:1-4).

In rabbinic law a woman who has committed adultery is “defiled” and cannot remain the wife of her husband, but must be divorced (Sifre on Dt, edit. M. Friedman (1864) 270 p. 122b; Sifre on Numbers, edit. M. Friedman (1915) 7 p. 4a and 19 p. 66). Furthermore any intimate male contact by the wife with Jew or gentile, potent or impotent, natural or unnatural makes divorce compulsory (Sotha 26b; Yebamoth 55a, b, 87b; Kethuboth 9a, Babylonian Talmud; Kethuboth 25a; Sotah 27a, Yad, Sotah 2,2, Jerusalem Talmud).

Betrothed

In Jewish Law a man betrothed to a woman was considered legally married to her. The word for betrothed in Hebrew is Kiddush, a word that is derived from the Hebrew word Kadash which means “holy” “consecrated,” “set apart.” Because by betrothal (as in Mt 1:18; Lk 1:27) , or marriage, a woman became the peculiar property of her husband, forbidden to others.

The Oral Law of Kiddushin (Marriages and Engagements) states; “The husband prohibits his wife to the whole world like an object which is dedicated to the Sanctuary” (Kiddushin 2b, Babylonian Talmud).

We know from the Gospel of Matthew 1:14 that Joseph the husband of Mary was a righteous man, a devout law-abiding Jew. Having noticed that Mary was pregnant and that he, her betrothed, had nothing to do with the pregnancy, Joseph had either to publicly condemn her and have her put to death for adultery (Dt 22:22-29) or put her away privately.

His decision was made when an angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife; for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Mt. 1:20-21). The angel does not use the phrase for marital union: “go in unto” (as in Gn 30:3, 4, 16) or “come together” (Mt 1:18) but merely a word meaning leading her into the house as a wife (paralambano gunaika) but not cohabiting with her.

For when the angel revealed to him that Mary was truly the spouse of the Holy Spirit, Joseph could take Mary, his betrothed, into his house as a wife, but he could never have intercourse with her because according to the Law she was forbidden to him for all time.

Marriage to the Holy Spirit

We also have to take into consideration that when Mary was told by the archangel Gabriel “Behold, you shall conceive in your womb, and bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus” (Lk 1:31), he also added that this was to come about because “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the Holy one to be born shall be called the Son of God” (Lk 1:35).

By stating it in those terms the archangel declared to Mary that God would enter into a marital relationship with her, causing her to conceive His Son in her womb, For “to lay one’s power (reshuth) over a woman” (Targum to Dt 21:4) was a euphemism for “to have a marital relationship with her.”

Likewise “to overshadow” (Lk 1:35) by spreading the “wing” or “cloak” over a woman was another euphemism for marital relations. Thus, the rabbis commented (Midrash Genesis Rabbah 39.7; Midrash Ruth Rabbah 3.9) that Ruth was chaste in her wording when she asked Boaz to have marital relations with her by saying to him “I am Ruth you handmaid, spread therefore your cloak ( literally, “wing”: kanaph) over your handmaid for you are my next-of-kin” (Ruth 3:9).

Tallith, another Aramaic-Hebrew word for cloak, is derived from tellal = shadow. Thus, “to spread one’s cloak (tallith) over a woman” means to cohabit with her (Kiddushin 18b, see also Mekhilta on Exodus 21:8). Did not the Lord say to His bride Israel: “I am married to you” (Jr 3:14) and “your Maker is your husband”? (Is 54-5:5; Jr 31:32)? And what is more intimate than what the Lord said to His bride: “You developed, you grew, you came to full womanhood; your breasts became firm and your hair grew… you were naked… and I saw that you were now old enough for love so I spread my cloak over you… I gave you My oath, I entered into a covenant with you and you became Mine, says the Lord God” (Ezk 16:7, 8).

Mary prohibited to Joseph

Having been enlightened by an angel in a dream regarding her pregnancy, and perhaps further by Mary concerning the words of the archangel Gabriel to her at the Annunciation, Joseph knew that God had conducted himself as a husband in regard to Mary. She was now prohibited to him for all time, and for the sake of the Child and Mary he could only live with her in an absolutely chaste relationship.

Living a celibate life within marriage was not unknown in Jewish tradition. It was told that Moses, who was married, remained continent the rest of his life after the command to abstain from sexual intercourse (Ex 19:15) given in preparation the seventy elders abstained thereafter from their wives after their call, and so did Eldad and Medad when the spirit of prophecy came upon them; indeed it was said that the prophets became celibate after the Word of the Lord communicated with them (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 19; 46.3; Sifre to Numbers 99 sect. 11; Sifre Zutta 81-82, 203-204; Aboth Rabbi Nathan 9, 39; Tanchuman 111, 46; Tanchumah Zaw 13; 3 Petirot Moshe 72; Shabbath 87a; Pesachim 87b, Babylonian Talmud).

Celibacy according to tradition

Elijah and Elisha were celibate al their lives (Zohar Hadash 2:1; Midrash Mishlei 30, 105, Pirke Rabbi Eliezer 33). When for the sake of the Torah (i.e., intense study in it), a rabbi would abstain from relations with his wife, it was deemed permissible, for he was then cohabiting with the Shekinah (the “Divine Presence”) in the Torah (Zohar re Gn 1:27; 13:3 and Psalm 85:14 in the Discourse of Rabbi Phineas to Rabbis Jose, Judah, and Hiya).

It is well known that the rabbis spoke concerning the obligation of all males to be married and procreated: “He who abstains from procreation is regarded as though he had shed blood” (Rabbi Eliezer in Yebamoth 63b, Babylonian Talmud; see also Shulkhan Aruch (Code of Jewish Law) section Evenhar-Ezer 1:1,3,4). According to Yebamoth 62b, B.T. a man is only half a man without a wife, citing Genesis 5:2 where it is said: “Male and female He (God) created them and blessed them, and called their name Adam (lit. “Man”).

Nevertheless, “if a person cleaves to the study of the Torah (i.e., dedicates all his time to it) like Simeon ben Azzai, his refusal to marry can be condoned” (Skulkhan Arukh EH 1:4). Rabbinic scholar Simeon ben Azzai (early second century A.D.) was extraordinary in his learning: “with the passing of Ben Azzai diligent scholars passed from the earth” (Sotah 9:15). He never married and was celibate all his life so as not to be distracted from his studies, and because he considered the Torah his wife, for who he always yearned with all his soul (Yebamoth 63b). He was an outstanding scholar (Kiddushin 20a, B.T.) and also renowned for his saintliness (Berakoth 57b, B.T.).

Other celibates

Jewish tradition also mentions the celibate Zenu’im (lit. “chaste ones”) to whom the secret of the Name of God was entrusted, for they were able to preserve the Holy Name in “perfect purity” (Kiddushin 71a; Midash Ecclesiastes Rabbah 3:11; Yer. yoma 39a, 40a).

Those in hope of a divine revelation consequently refrained from sexual intercourse and were strict in matters of purity (Enoch 83:2; Revelation 14:2-5).

Philo (Apol. pro Judaeis 1X, 14-17), Josephus, (Antiq. XVIII. 21) and Hipploytus (Philosophumena IX, IV, 28a) wrote on the celibacy of the Jewish Essenes hundreds of years before the discovery of their settlements in Qumran by the Dead Sea.

Philo Judaeus (c. 20 B.C.-50 A.D.), a Jewish philosopher, described Jewish women who were virgins who have kept their chastity not under compulsion, like some Greek priestesses, but of their own free will in their ardent yearning for Wisdom. “Eager to have Wisdom for their life-mate, they have spurned the pleasures of the body and desire no mortal offspring but those immortal children which only the soul that is dear to God can bring forth to birth” (Philo, Cont. 68; see also Philo, Abr. 100).

For “the chaste are rewarded by receiving illumination from the concealed heavenly light” (Zohar 11. 229b-230a). Because “if the understanding is safe and unimpaired, free from the oppression of the iniquities or passions… it will gaze clearly on all that is worthy of contemplation” (Philo, Sob. 1.5). Conversely, “the understanding of the pleasure-loving man is blind and unable to see those things that are worth seeing… the sight of which is wonderful to behold and desirable” (Philo, Q. Gen.IV.245).

Joseph as celibate caretaker

As the recipient of the great revelation that what was conceived in the womb of Mary, his betrothed, was of the Holy Spirit and that the Child to be born was destined to save His people from their sins, surely Joseph knew that he was called to take care of Mary and her Child, the Messiah, for the rest of his life, which is why the angel told him to take Mary as his wife.

We may reasonable assume that Mary herself now shared with him all that the archangel Gabriel said to her. No less a Person than “the Son of God” (Lk 1:35) was to be entrusted to his care under the shelter of his humble home, now become the Holy of Holies.

Jewish tradition mentions that, although the people had to abstain from sexual relations with their wives for only three days prior to the revelation at Mount Sinai (Ex 19:15), Moses chose to remain continent the rest of his life with the full approval of God. The rabbis explained that this was so because Moses knew that he was appointed to personally commune with God, not only at Mount Sinai but in general throughout the forty years of sojourning in the wilderness. For this reason Moses kept himself “apart from woman,” remaining in the sanctity of separation to be at the beck and call of God at all times; they cited God’s command to Moses in Deuteronomy 5:28 (Midrash Exodus Rabbah 19:3 and 46.3).

Again, we may be sure that Saint Joseph remained celibate all his life because throughout his married years he was in daily attendance and communication with Jesus, the incarnate Word of God.

Elisa on January 20, 2016 at 9:56 PM

Elisa- you got the computer back!
I love your comments- God Bless You….you’re a good, and patient, teacher!

tiptopsaidhe on January 20, 2016 at 3:21 PM

I can’t debate the translations of the word “til” for it has no purpose – (although Elisa is smart and went above and beyond :) – and should not be the purpose of The Bible. It’s not meant to be used to limit or restrict, the inspiration that should be derived from it. And that’s really what it usually boils down to- limitations.

Why was an older man chosen for 12 or 13 yr. old Mary? Was Joseph possibly impotent? Why not a strapping young man to wed Mary, instead of a widower that already has a family? And how on earth could Joseph think Mary was any less in God’s favor, after Bethlehem, and it was no biggie for her to know her? We are talking about God revealing himself here. Must we require the Bible give us those answers? There are endless questions that can never have answers.

Faith begins where the questions end. For Catholics, there’s not even a infinitesimal doubt that Mary wasn’t ever-Virgin. But that’s our Faith….to question the reasoning of the Love of God’s Grace within a Faith is not something one should debate. That’s the essence of a Faith- unquestionable Love.
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And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.”
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From now on all generations will call me blessed,
for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.

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And she too so Loved God, she also would give her only Son to the world…….

Don’t you think Mary knew she was a very special woman? Can’t your faith allow you to understand the depth of the divinity God bestowed on Mary, and the Love she has for God. Celibacy could not have been an unthinkable burden for them.

But in order to allow your heart to be full of this Joy, you have to believe beyond the limiting robotic subservience to the a Bible verses. God is great, and nothing is impossible with God. We sometimes feel we can understand Gods realm, but we only fool ourselves. We have no clue. So there has to be more. The Truth cannot be found in disagreement. There cannot be unity within disagreement.
How sad it must be for Christ to see us, his believers to be squabbling over technical merits of 2000 year old manuscripts…..which as I pointed out…..we’re not given to us by him. We need to live our lives by the teachings of the Bible, no doubt there, but our Love for Christ has to come from our hearts, cemented in Faith that justifies the Grace of God- giving Thanks for the Love God gives us.
And that’s worth way moe than translation debates.

FlaMurph on January 21, 2016 at 1:08 AM

You are talking about Mary’s perpetual virginity. That is different than the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception is talking about Mary’s conception in St. Anne, how “at the moment of” her conception, God preserved her free from sin by the grace and merits of Jesus Christ.

A good wife does not sin by having a physical relationship with her husband. Catholics not only believe that marriage is a sacrament, but that the consummation of that sacrament is in the physical union, part of the “form” of that sacrament.

For Mary it was a different situation. Mary still would have been holy if she had a physical relationship with Joseph in marriage. In all other respects, we believe they had a very loving marriage and we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family

Catholics and Orthodox Christians don’t believe Mary was a perpetual virgin because otherwise she would have been sinful. We believe it simply because she was, according to early Tradition.

The reason was because Mary was considered the spouse of the Holy Spirit, her womb was the Holy of Holies that held God Himself.

I am going to post a very interesting article on ancient Hebrew customs and beliefs during the time of Mary and Joseph.

It explains in more detail what is meant in Luke 1:35 when Gabriel tells Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

The root of the word used for “overshadow” is like the Hebrew word used in Ruth 3:9 when it talks of spreading one’s cloak over a woman. Which means to make her his spouse.

Overshadowed is also obviously the same word used in Exodus, when the Shekinah spirit of God “overshadowed” the Ark of the Old Covenant, showing God’s presence there.

Elisa on January 20, 2016 at 9:47 PM

How sad it must be for Christ to see us, his believers to be squabbling over technical merits of 2000 year old manuscripts…..which as I pointed out…..we’re not given to us by him. We need to live our lives by the teachings of the Bible, no doubt there, but our Love for Christ has to come from our hearts, cemented in Faith that justifies the Grace of God- giving Thanks for the Love God gives us.
And that’s worth way moe than translation debates.

FlaMurph on January 21, 2016 at 1:08 AM

I appreciate the replies. How sad, indeed, that we can’t pursue truth of the word so we can unite in one message of truth.

You raise an interesting point in that Joseph or Mary could have been impaired and unable to have a physical relationship and it could still have been a loving, Godly marriage. If we suspend our intellectual honesty regarding Matt 13, that very well may be a valid answer.

I appreciate the commentary Elisa added for insight…

PERPETUAL VIRGINITY OF MARY
by Br. Anthony Opisso, M.D.

From the earliest biblical days adultery carried with it a sense of defilement, so that a woman who had know contact with another man, even if by force, was considered no longer fit to be visited by her husband (Genesis 49:4; 2 Samuel 20:3, re ibid. 16:21-22; Book of Jubilees 33:6-9; Epstein, Marriage Laws in the Biblical Talmud, p.51).

The deuteronomic code teaches that a woman who is divorced by her husband and thereafter marries another man likewise cannot return to her former husband (Dt 24:1-4). As the Lord said through the prophet Jeremiah: “If a man put away his wife and she goes from him and becomes another man’s wife, shall he return to her again, shall not the land (his wife’s body) be greatly polluted?” (Jr 3:1; see Targum to Dt 24:1-4).

…but, it’s difficult to read past this paragraph…because God says in Jer 3, “though you have heard it said in Deut 24 that a woman can’t return to her husband after divorce (God divorces His wife (Israel) in v8 for adultery), but I say to you, return to me…in v14 for I am still married to you.” In Jer 3, God does away with Deut 24, as does Jesus when he’s talking with the Pharisees (Talmudic Judaism is still Pharisee-ism). Anyone who brings up Duet 24 doesn’t know the God of Israel as He revealed Himself in Jer 3, or in Christ. I’m sure the dude makes a romantic effort, but he lost all credibility in paragraph 2.

As to the cloak reference, Mary would be under the cloak of Joseph, and God would have known that, being that He set it up. Yes, in order that prophecy be fulfilled and God’s plan of redemption be completed, they both lived under the divine protection and favor of Elohim. They were clearly blessed.

When Mary was brought to believe that Jesus was Messiah (which would be at some point after Luke 4:21), she became betrothed to Messiah, just as all who are drawn to believe are betrothed to Messiah. When He returns for His bride, He will take us to the place He has prepared for us in His Father’s house and take us to the wedding feast.

I suppose all of us suspend our reasoning about what God says in the bible regarding one thing or another at various points, I will concede. How could Jonah have breathed inside a fish, for instance? Jesus died on the cross for Mary’s soul, just as He did for every other person God made. Judas was used by God also, but not called to believe Jesus was Messiah. Mary was blessed by God to come to believe in Her son and the need for His shed blood. She was made by God, then bought by Him through Messiah. Amazing Grace for sure!

tiptopsaidhe on January 22, 2016 at 5:08 PM