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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Making Sense of Mary


On special Marian feasts , there are some who wonder why we hold Mary up to such a high degree, we can at times find ourselves at a loss of words trying to explain why we believe those particular things about Mary. Today is recommended the remedy to such a situation.

The long awaited work by Gary Michuta called – Making Sense of Mary – is finally available for purchase.

What makes Gary’s book different from all of the other apologetic works on Mary – that you know of?

I have heard some amazing apologists make bulletproof arguments for the different Marian doctrines that we believe as Catholics.  What Gary does in his book is take a few steps back from the individual Marian doctrines and gives us the bigger picture of how Mary fits into the story of our salvation.

Now before I read the book, I could defend each one of the doctrines particular to Mary, Her Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, and Assumption etc. But what I couldn’t do, that – Making Sense of Mary – helped me do, is show how they all fit together and are a necessary part of the story of our redemption.

He does this in just two easy to read chapters. First he goes back to the beginning and presents an in-depth study of the fall of Adam and Eve. Then, because you now know exactly what was lost by in the fall of our first parents and what was gained by the devil, he takes you through the story of salvation and shows now what is lost to the devil and regained by Jesus and Mary.

Gary shows that just as Jesus is presented in scripture as The New Adam, Mary can then be rightly seen as The New Eve. It is on this scaffolding – so to speak – that all of these teachings hang.

Who is the target audience of this book?

This book is written with non-Catholic Bible believers in mind, and Catholics in mind. It begins in chapter one laying a foundation to put the non-Catholic at ease. Gary has three ground rules

#1 Christ alone saves us.
#2 God’s plan of redemption is perfect and complete and lacking in nothing.
#3 Satan’s defeat in redemption is perfect and complete and lacking in nothing.

These are super important for the non-Catholic to hear, because the reason that they aren’t honoring Mary to begin with is because they believe that this somehow eclipses the honor that we give to Jesus. The other reason why they don’t see these doctrines in Scripture is two fold. Firstly, these doctrines have been passed on more explicitly in Catholic Tradition than in Scripture. Secondly, you have to study the language and culture of the Israelites of the Old Testament and understand how Jesus is fulfilling that in the New Testament – which is hard to do when each generation of Bible believing non-Catholics is trying to reinterpret the scriptures for themselves.

Give us a quick insight into some of the things that Gary is trying to point out.

One thing that struck me is from the Magnificat of Mary. This is the scene where she is visiting Elizabeth and begins this prayer -

Luke 1:46-55
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
Later she says this:
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
So when she says that God has looked with favor on this lowly servant – who is she talking about? She is talking about herself. She is the lowly servant.
But then she says this, “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.”
So the might have been cast from their thrones, and the lowly have been lifted up – up to where? Up to the thrones.
Here in the magnificat, we have Mary implying that she the lowly servant will be lifted up to a throne. Now don’t we know that as Mary’s Queenship? Yet it is hidden here in the magnificat.
Another beautiful example is when he is comparing Adam and Eve to Jesus and Mary – that when it speaks of the expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden it says this:
Genesis 3:23 The LORD God therefore banished him from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he had been taken. 24 When he expelled the man, he settled him east of the garden of Eden; and he stationed the cherubim and the fiery revolving sword, to guard the way to the tree of life.

So we read how the man was expelled from the garden of Eden, well did the woman get expelled? It never says it right out that she was expelled. But then we read the next verse:

Genesis 4:1 1 The man had relations with his wife Eve.

So we see that Eve did get expelled and was with Adam, because we then see them together.
So what had happened to the Adam, had also happened to Eve, though never explicitly stated, but the next time we see them, they are together.

What about Jesus the New Adam, and Mary, the New Eve? The Bible shows that Jesus ascended into heaven, the Bible never says that Mary was assumed into heaven.

Yet, just like the first Adam and Eve, what had happened to him, then happened to her, Jesus and Mary are the same way. The Bible never says that Mary was assumed into heaven, yet after the ascension, in Revelation 12 what do we see…

Revelation 12:1 1 A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman 2 clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 2 She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.

We see Mary in a heavenly vision, crowned queen – along with the New Adam, Jesus
Revelation 12:5 She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.

He is a New King. It never says explicitly that Mary was assumed into heaven, but what happens to the New Adam also happens to the New Eve.