Ho rapela Mary

Image of Madonna of Humility by Gentile-da-FabrianorThere is probably no one aspect of the Catholic faith more widely misunderstood than devotion to the Virgin Mary, which can appear to some Christians as a form of idolatry.

To properly understand this devotion, one must distinguish between honor and worship. Ka mantsoe a, re tlhompho Mary and the Saints, empa worship God alone. According to the Bible, the essence of worship is not thapelo, ho feta moo, but the offering of sacrifice (bona Exoda 20:24; Malakia 1:11; le Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians 10:14-21, et al a.). Catholics pray to the Saints, but offer sacrifice to God alone, namely the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!

As we explain elsewhere, praying to the Saints is merely a way to ask those who have gone before us to pray with us and for usjust as we ask fellow believers on earth to do.

Roman Catholic and Orthodox devotion to Mary involves more than prayer, Leha ho le joalo. What of the high status which Catholics and Orthodox assign to her? Is is right to so exalt a mere human being?

We believe that no one could possibly exalt Mary more than God did when He chose her to be the Mother of His Son. In the Gospel scene of the visitation, Saint Elizabeth says to her, “Blessed are you among women, 'me ho hlohonolofatsoe ke litholoana tsa pōpelong ea hao u! Hona ke hobane'ng ha see se mphile, hore 'mè oa Moren' a ka lokela ho tla ho 'na?” (Luka 1:41-43). In that same passage, Mary exclaims, “Mpo tala, henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (1:48).

Sometimes those who oppose so lofty a view of Mary will cite the episode in the Kosepele ea Luka in which a woman in the crowd calls out to Jesus, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, le matsoele hore u sucked!”; ho e leng O ile a Karabo ea, “Blesssed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it” (11:27-28). We need to be careful not to interpret a particular verse of the Bible out of the context. Bakeng sa, as we have just seen, Mary’s blessedness is affirmed elsewhere in Luka. Haele hantle, in the first chaper of the book, Elizabeth says of Mary, “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (1:45). These are essentially the same words Jesus used later to identify true blessedness: “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.” ka Luka 11:28, ka nako eo, the Lord was not denying Mary’s blessed status, but clarifying for us the true reason for it: her perfect faith and obedience to God’s word.

Image of Parting from Saint John by Duccio di BuoninsegnaChrist is our one Mediator with God, and He calls His followers to share with Him in that singular mediation, ho, as the Bible says, becomeGod’s fellow workersas Saint Paul stated in his Lengolo la pele le eang ho Bakorinthe 3:9.

Jesu a re, “He who believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I go to the Father” (John 14:12). Kahoo, a re “Ha e le hantle” to God at the Annunciation, Mary cooperated with Him in a far greater, more intimate way than any human being or angel ever has or ever will do.

As she stood at the foot of the Cross, Jesu a re ho eena, “Woman, behold your son!”, referring to the Apostle John beside her. And to John, Morena o re, “Bona, your mother!” (John 19:26-27).

It is extraordinary that Jesus first asked Mary to look after John, given that John was an adult fully capable of caring for himself. It is only reasonable to interpret Jesuswords to Mary and John in a spiritual way, seeing that Mary was entrusted to be the spiritual Mother of John, who asthe beloved disciplerepresented all of Christ’s followers. Coincidentally, le Buka ea Tšenolo, written by John, affirms Mary as the Mother of all Christians, a re, “Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (12:17).

Leha ho le joalo, despite all the special privileges God has seen bestowed on Mary, she remains merely His creature and servant as she herself humbly professes in the Magnificat, her hymn of praise to the Almighty:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. Mpo tala, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luka 1:46-49)