Mary a Disciple, Not a Queen
THERE was a most unusual occurrence in the Galilean town of Nazareth. It was not to the daughter of a king, but to the humble daughter of Heli who was soon to be married to the young carpenter Joseph, that the angel Gabriel appeared with the greeting, “Good day, highly favored one, Jehovah is with you.” Quite naturally Mary was disturbed at the greeting. What did it mean? The angel continued: “Have no fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God; and, look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will be king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” There were no promises of a jewel-bedecked crown for her. She would bear the son, but he would be the king. She was not presumptuous or demanding of more for herself, but responded: “Look! Jehovah’s slave girl! May it take place with me according to your declaration.”—Luke 1:28-38, NW.
A SONG OF PRAISE
Mary soon made a trip to Judah to visit Elizabeth, who greeted her with this statement inspired by God: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! So how is it that this privilege is mine, to have the mother of my Lord come to me? For, look! as the sound of your greeting fell upon my ears, the infant in my womb leaped with great gladness. Happy, too, is she that believed, because there will be a complete performance of those things spoken to her from Jehovah.” Elizabeth was right; Mary was being richly blessed by Jehovah and she was happy to be His servant.
Mary showed good sense in her response. Her privilege of service had not made her proud or boastful, for she gave the glory to God. “My soul magnifies Jehovah, and my spirit cannot keep from being overjoyed at God my Savior; because he has looked upon the low position of his slave girl. For, look! from now on all generations will pronounce me happy; because the powerful One has done great deeds for me, and holy is his name, and for generations after generations his mercy is upon those who fear him. He has performed mightily with his arm, he has scattered abroad those who are haughty in the intention of their hearts. He has brought down men of power from thrones and exalted lowly ones; he has fully satisfied hungry ones with good things and he has sent away empty those who had wealth. He has come to the aid of Israel his servant, to call to mind mercy, just as he once said to our forefathers, to Abraham and to his seed, forever.” (Luke 1:39-55, NW) While she expressed heartfelt gratitude for the undeserved kindness shown to her by God, she directed all honor to him: He was the one magnified, the powerful One who does great deeds; his name is holy.
BLESSED AMONG WOMEN
But what of the statement, “all generations will pronounce me happy”? Does it not indicate special praise and glory is due this one privileged to be the mother of God’s Son? No; “It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.” (Matt. 4:10, NW) Nor is even relative worship to be given by one bowing before her image. “You must not make for yourself a carved image . . . You must not bow down to them nor be induced to serve them, because I Jehovah your God am a God exacting exclusive devotion.” “I am Jehovah, that is my name; and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise unto graven images.” When John bowed before even a living angel he was reproved: “Do not do that! . . . Worship God.”—Ex. 20:4, 5, NW; Isa. 42:8, AS; Rev. 19:10, NW.
In what way, then, is she pronounced happy? Is it because of being the “woman” spoken of prophetically in Genesis 3:15? No, for the woman that was to bring forth the serpent-bruising Seed, later promised to come through the line of Abraham, is identified in Galatians 4:26 as “Jerusalem above,” the universal organization of God.—Gen. 22:18.
Is she declared happy because of being the “woman” referred to in the symbolic account of Revelation chapter 12? Again, No. It could not possibly be discussing the human birth of Jesus. The Revelation was given to John in the year 96 (A.D.), years after the birth of Christ, and it is introduced with the clear statement that these events were yet future.—Rev. 1:1.
Is her joy, then, as Co-Redemptrix of the human race? St. Alphonsus Liguori ascribes that position to her by saying, “There is no one . . . who can be saved or redeemed but through thee, O Mother of God.” But the Bible firmly declares: “Jesus Christ the Nazarene, . . . there is no salvation in anyone else, for there is not another name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must get saved.” (Acts 4:10-12, NW) And Revelation 7:10 excludes Mary when it says: “Salvation we owe to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb.”—NW.
May she be pronounced happy as the Mediatrix of mankind? Let God have the say as to the truth of the matter by accepting the statement in his Word: “There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, a man Christ Jesus, who gave himself a corresponding ransom for all.”—1 Tim. 2:5, 6, NW.
Certainly all will agree that Mary’s was a happy lot as the earthly mother of Jesus, but her lot as a disciple of Jesus was a source of even greater joy. When Jesus was on one occasion teaching a crowd, a woman raised her voice in sincere expression, saying, “Happy is the womb that carried you and the breasts that you sucked!” That is to this day the feeling of many. But Jesus corrected the woman: “No, rather, Happy are those hearing the word of God and keeping it!” It was in this that Mary found her greater happiness.—Luke 11:27, 28, NW.
“QUEEN OF HEAVEN”
Mary is much spoken of in Catholic groups as the “Queen of Heaven” and the “Queen of Peace.” This is not a new thought, for early apocryphal writings ascribed great honor to her as the “Mother of God.” But let us go back much before that, into ancient Babylon with its pagan religion, to find its beginning. “Under the name of the ‘Mother of the gods,’ the goddess queen of Babylon became an object of almost universal worship. ‘The Mother of the gods,’ says Clericus, ‘was worshipped by the Persians, the Syrians, and all the kings of Europe and Asia, with the most profound religious veneration.” How did the practice creep into the “Christian” world? “The worship of the goddess-mother with the child in her arms continued to be observed in Egypt till Christianity entered. . . . With the generality it came only in name. Instead, therefore, of the Babylonian goddess being cast out, in too many cases her name only was changed. She was called the Virgin Mary, and, with her child, was worshipped with the same idolatrous feeling by professing Christians, as formerly by open and avowed Pagans.”—The Two Babylons, by Alexander Hislop.
Note, too, the madonnas of Christendom. Until Raphael departed from the conventional, Mary was never painted with the Hebrew features of her people and with the dark eyes and hair so common to them. She, like most of the pagan madonnas, has usually been portrayed with golden hair and blue eyes, just as the goddess-queen of Babylon. “There is yet another remarkable characteristic of these pictures worthy of notice, and that is the nimbus or peculiar circle of light that frequently encompasses the head of the Roman Madonna. . . . The disk, and particularly the circle, were the well-known symbols of the Sun-divinity, and figured largely in the symbolism of the East. . . . The same was the case in Pagan Rome. Apollo, as the child of the Sun, was often thus represented.”—The Two Babylons, page 87.
In considering the work of St. Alphonsus Liguori, The Glories of Mary, written about 1750 and pronounced without error by Popes Pius VII and Leo XIII, Charles Amlin draws a few rather pointed comparisons on the glory given to the Catholic “Queen of Heaven”: “In the Liguori book we read (p. 92): ‘All power is given to thee (Mary) in heaven and on earth, and nothing is impossible to thee.’ In the Catholic Bible we read (Matt. XXVIII:18): ‘And Jesus drew near and spoke to them, saying, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” In the Liguori book we read (p. 257): ‘Mary . . . is that throne of grace to which the Apostle Paul, in his epistle to the Hebrews, exhorts to fly with confidence.’ In the Catholic Bible we read (Heb. IV:14-16): ‘Having therefore a great high priest . . . Jesus the Son of God . . . Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.’ . . . In the Liguori book, pronounced, as will be recalled, ‘without error’ by two popes, we read (p. 130): ‘The Holy Church . . . commands a worship peculiar to Mary.’”
On page 37 of this same work, Mary: Mother of Jesus or Queen of Heaven? the author quotes further from The Glories of Mary: “Of other saints we say that they are with God; but of Mary alone can it be said that she was so far favored as to be not only herself submissive to the will of God, but even that God was subject to her will.” And on page 49 Pope Pius IX is quoted as concluding his definition of the dogma of Mary’s immaculate conception with the words: “Let the children of the Roman Catholic Church . . . proceed to worship, invoke and pray to the Blessed Virgin Mary.” And so the worship of Mary, Queen of Heaven, has come to replace the worship of God in the lives of millions.
Just who is this “Queen of Heaven,” ascribed greater authority than Christ and of whom it is said that even “God was subject to her will”? Surely not the humble Mary who magnified Jehovah and was his willing servant. No, but she is the Babylonian queen of heaven of whom God himself says at Jeremiah 7:16-20 (AS): “Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up cry nor prayer for them, neither make intercession to me; for I will not hear thee. Seest thou not what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead the dough, to make cakes to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto other gods, that they may provoke me to anger. Do they provoke me to anger? saith Jehovah; do they not provoke themselves, to the confusion of their own faces? Therefore thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, mine anger and my wrath shall be poured out upon this place, upon man, and upon beast, and upon the trees of the field, and upon the fruit of the ground; and it shall burn, and shall not be quenched.” Worship of a “Queen of Heaven” or a “Queen of Peace” is not the way to honor God, but recognition of the God of peace and of his appointed Prince of Peace is.
DISCIPLE OF JESUS
What a contrast there is between the humble mother and disciple of Jesus described in the Bible and the gold- and jewel-bedecked images of the “Queen of Heaven” adored and worshiped by men! Mary’s meekness, sincerity and love of righteousness fit her well as a devoted disciple of Jesus. Nowhere do we find her with a halo on her head and richly decked out as the glorified “Queen of Heaven.” After Jesus’ death she was not glorified in the Christian congregation. In fact, very little is said about her. The last mention of her in the Bible shows her with the other faithful followers of the Lord in an upper room giving her worship to God. (Acts 1:13, 14) When she died her body returned to the dust, and there she slept in death until God’s due time to raise her with other faithful ones to life as a spirit creature in heaven.—1 Cor. 15:44, 50; 2 Tim. 4:8.