Would Christ Have Proclaimed a “Marian Year”?
CHRIST JESUS while on earth kept God’s law perfectly. He therefore had due respect for his foster father and his mother, for God’s law required that he honor them. But were he present today would he proclaim a “Marian Year” as did his claimed vicegerent, the pope of Rome?
A “Marian Year”? Yes, the New York Times, September 27, 1953, reported that on September 8, which, incidentally, is claimed to be the birthday of Mary, the pope issued his twenty-fifth encyclical, which he termed “Fulgens Corona,” that is, the “Radiant Crown,” wherein he designated 1954 as a “Marian Year” in that it was to be devoted to veneration of Mary.
In this encyclical the pope called upon all Christians, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, to make the year one of special prayer. Among the many things for which they were to pray, three were particularly stressed: the peace of the world, the unity of the church, and freedom for the church in totalitarian lands. No world pilgrimages were to be made to Rome, as this was but a “Little Holy Year”; however, every Catholic church was to be a shrine, with special emphasis on churches named after Mary and shrines where she is said to have appeared, such as that at Lourdes, France.
And why did the pope designate 1954 as a Marian year? Because it is the hundredth anniversary of the promulgation of the dogma of the immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, which, according to the opening paragraph of this encyclical, holds “that the Most Blessed Virgin Mary at the first moment of her conception was by a singular grace and privilege of the omnipotent God in virtue of the merits of Jesus Christ, Savior of the human race, preserved from all stain of original sin.”
Whether or not Christ Jesus would have proclaimed a Marian year would first of all depend upon whether Mary was conceived without sin or not. As Christians we, of course, accept God’s Word as our authority. Do we find anything therein supporting the dogma under question? We do not. Even the Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. VII, page 675, admits that “no direct or categorical and stringent proof of the dogma can be brought forward from Scripture.” Is it not strange that a dogma, the denial of which merits excommunication, should not be mentioned at all in the Scriptures? And that even such early church “fathers” as Origen, Basil and Chrysostom did not hold to it?
Yes, it would be strange if a dogma essential to salvation were not mentioned in the Scriptures. But the fact is that not only is the dogma of the immaculate conception of Mary not mentioned in the Scriptures, but they teach just the opposite. Plainly and unequivocally they state, “All alike have sinned, all alike are unworthy of God’s praise.” “All alike were guilty men.” “If we deny that we have sinned, it means that we are treating him as a liar; it means that his word does not dwell in our hearts.”—Rom. 3:23; 5:13; 1 John 1:10, Knox.
We also know from the Scriptures that Jesus was an exception to the foregoing. Time and again we are assured that he was without sin: “Who did no sin.” He was “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners,” and, although tempted in all points as we are, still remained “without sin.” (1 Pet. 2:22; Heb. 7:26; 4:15, Dy) Besides, he could not have given his life as a ransom had he been contaminated with sin.—Matt. 20:28; 1 Tim. 2:5, 6, Kx.
But not a word do we find about Mary’s also being an exception. If it is necessary for us to be repeatedly reminded in the Scriptures that Jesus was without sin, would it not be even more imperative that the exception of Mary be brought to our attention plainly, stringently and categorically, if she also were an exception? To argue that it was necessary for Mary to be without sin so that Jesus could be without sin would have made it necessary that both Mary’s father and mother be without sin, and so on back! No, the Scriptures do not allow for the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception, and so Christ Jesus would not have proclaimed a Marian year in celebration of the hundredth anniversary of its promulgation.
MARY EVER VIRGIN?
While the Scriptures state that ‘in sin did our mothers conceive us,’ the claim is made that Mary is “ever virgin” and therefore could have remained free from sin. But what do the Scriptures say? At Matthew 1:25 (Dy) we read that Joseph “knew” Mary not, that is, did not have relations with her, “till she brought forth her firstborn son.” Clearly the implication is that after Jesus was born Joseph did have relations with her. Further note that Luke also refers to Jesus as Mary’s “firstborn son,” implying she had other sons. Why did not Matthew plainly state that Joseph never had any relations with Mary, and why did not Luke state that Mary brought forth Jesus her only son? Because they both knew that Mary had other children, that she was not “ever virgin.”—Ps. 50:7*; Luke 2:7, Dy.
That is why we read of Jesus’ acquaintances saying: “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary, and his brethren James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” It cannot be argued that these were his spiritual “brethren,” for we are plainly told that these brethren did not believe on him. In fact, he contrasted these with his true followers, saying: “Whosoever shall do the will of my Father that is in heaven, he is my brother, and sister, and mother.”—Matt. 13:54-56; John 7:3-5; Matt. 12:48-50, Dy.
Neither can it be argued that these were merely male and female relatives such as cousins. Why not? Because when a cousin is referred to, as when the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary about her cousin Elizabeth, the Greek word syngenés is used, whereas when Jesus’ brothers and sisters are referred to the Greek words adelphós and adelphé are used.—Luke 1:36, Dy.
DID JESUS VENERATE HIS MOTHER?
According to the pope’s encyclical all men are to pray to Mary regarding many matters. But is there any Scriptural support for such admonition? Did any of the early Christians, while she was alive or after her decease, address petitions to her? Had the early church venerated Mary and addressed petitions to her we may be certain that we would have a Scriptural record of the same. Nowhere do we read that they made pilgrimages to her, that they venerated her, or addressed petitions to her.
Why did they not do so? Because they appreciated that Mary was not important in herself. She had an assignment from God as a female slave or handmaiden to provide a human body for God’s Son, and that she did. In doing so she had merely done her duty, and, like all the rest of God’s imperfect slaves, she was still but a woman who could say: “I am a good-for-nothing slave.” That in itself did not guarantee her salvation nor make her a fitting object for veneration.—Luke 17:10, NW.
Certainly if anyone should have given her honor for what she did it should have been her son Jesus. But did he do so? Far from it! In fact, as we examine the Scriptures we find that in every instance in which Jesus addressed her he refers to her, not as “holy mother,” or “dear mother,” nor even as “mother,” but simply as “woman,” the same term he used when speaking to the immoral woman at the well. Always his manner was objective and not subjective. When his mother rebuked him at the age of twelve, he did not meekly take the rebuke, but corrected her, saying, “What reason had you to search for me? Could you not tell that I must needs be in the place which belongs to my Father?”—John 4:21; Luke 2:49, Kx.
At the very beginning of his ministry when attending the wedding feast at Cana, his mother called his attention to the fact that the wine had run out. Did he obsequiously reply, “Thanks, mother dear. What do you want me to do?” No, he did not, but the import of his reply was as given by Monsignor Knox’s footnote: “Leave me alone, do not interfere with me.” And again it was “woman,” not “mother.”—John 2:1-5, Kx.
On another occasion Jesus said: “Nobody is good, except one, God.” And in that “nobody” he included also his mother Mary. As proof for that, note his reply to the woman who sought to praise his mother by saying: “Happy is the womb that carried you and the breasts that you sucked!” Not agreement, but, “No, rather, Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” As far as Jesus was concerned his mother was not better or more blessed than any other of his faithful disciples.—Luke 18:18, 19; 11:27, 28, NW.
The exaltation of a woman is nowhere taught in the Scriptures but is everywhere found in pagan religions. Christ Jesus while on earth, as well as his immediate disciples, magnified his Father’s name, goodness and kingdom. He addressed his petitions to his Father and taught others to do likewise. Not once do we read that he dwelt on Mary’s goodness or her blessed lot. He treated her objectively. In view of all the foregoing, were Christ Jesus here today would he proclaim 1954 a “Marian Year”? He would not!
The Roman Catholic Church by exalting Mary comes in for Paul’s criticism found at Romans 1:25 (NW): “Even those who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and venerated and rendered sacred service to the creation rather than the One who created, who is blessed forever.”
Ps. 51:5, non-Catholic versions.