Sunday, January 18, 2009

Doubting Kaycee

Over on Beggars All, I have been participating in a discussion about St. Louis de Montfort’s book, “Secret of Mary.” One of the individuals there, who goes by the name Kaycee, suggested that Mary “had doubts” about Jesus. In support of her contention, she cited Mark 3:20-21 and Mark 3:31-35. Specifically, in response to a question that a Catholic (?) gentlemen had written, “What makes you think there must be a Biblical basis?” she replied quoting from an unknown version of the Bible:
“I guess maybe because the bible IS the WORD of God, it directly quotes Jesus, it accurately records what the Apostles taught.

On a different note, ever notice, in your 'insufficient' bible that Mary had doubts about Jesus?

Mark 20 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. 21 And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, "He is out of his mind." ...

Mark 31 And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you." 33And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother." [Emphasis added by Kaycee]

Kaycee is not alone in claiming that the Scriptures show that Mary “doubted” Jesus. Type in Mark 3:20-21 and do a search on Google and you will find many Protestants claiming that Mary doubted Jesus’ mission or that she thought he was crazy or that she did not believe in His divinity, etc... This is reflective of the aversion many Protestants have pertaining to anything touching upon the Blessed Virgin, often going to great lengths to distort what little there is stated in Scripture itself about the Blessed Virgin Mary. The problem in making such claims is that Scripture doesn't back them up. In this instance, if Kaycee believes the Scriptures are an accurate reflection of what the Apostles taught (which we Catholics by happenstance also believe as well), then how do Protestants square up their notion that Mary “doubted” Jesus when the Scriptures actually do not record any such thing?

Let’s examine Mark 3:20-21 to see if one could infer that Mary “doubted” Jesus. I will be using the NRSV (2d Catholic Ed.) unless noted otherwise.
Then he (Jesus) went home; and the crowd came together again, so they could not even eat. And when His friends heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they said, “He is besides Himself.”

In contrast to the version of the Scriptures that Kaycee is quoting, the NRSV states that it was his "friends"that tried to seize Him rather than his “family.” Going through the various English versions of the Scriptures I own in print, the Confraternity (1941) says "his own people;" the J.B. Phillips version, "his relatives;" the NAB, "his relatives;" the Jerusalem Bible, "his relatives;" the KJV, "his friends;" the NASB, "his own people;" the Douay, "friends;" Ronald Knox’s translation, "those nearest to him;" and The Interpreter's Bible, "those with him;" Only in the REV and the Good News bible is the word "family" used.

Regardless of whichever version of the Scriptures that one may rely upon, in none of them does the name Mary appear in connection with “friends,” “relatives,” “his own people,” “those nearest to him,” “those with him,” or “family.” Thus, it may be that Jesus’ “friends,” “relatives,” “his own people,” “those nearest to him,” “those with him,” and/or “family” may have had doubts about Jesus, but it is pure supposition that this passage is referring to doubts that Mary may have had when her name doesn't appear anywhere in verses 20-21.

Linking Mark 3:20-21 with Mark 3:31-35 doesn't help. The former group of verses references a separate event from that shown in the latter verses. Additionally, nowhere in Mark 3:31-35 does it suggest that anyone was “doubting” Jesus at all. Thus, Kaycee's view is merely eisegetical at best and disingenuous at worst.

Frankly , it is eisegesis on the part of any Protestant to claim that Mark 3:20-21 demonstrate that Mary “doubted” anything about Jesus, whether it be His mission, His divinity or anything else about Him. To buttress this point, one only need look to other Scripture passages to demonstrate this gross mis-reading of Scripture.

At Lk. 1:26-38 we find the Archangel Gabriel visiting Mary. While that in of itself suggests something pretty spectacular was about to happen to Mary, what Gabriel tells Mary is even more so for he said,
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." [Emphasis added.]

Now, Gabriel is pretty explicit here as to what is going to happen to Mary and what her son, Jesus, is going to be and what He is going to do and accomplish.
And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?"

Note Mary’s reaction to Gabriel’s greeting. She is not exhibiting doubt. She is not questioning whether God can do such a thing. Rather, she merely inquires HOW God is going to accomplish this great thing since she had not had sexual relations nor was even married for that matter.
And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy,the Son of God.

And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible."

Once Gabriel explains how Mary is going to conceive Jesus she responds with an answer that displays no doubt whatsoever. At this point, she is totally accepting of God’s will and says so.
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word."

And the angel departed from her.

Considering that Mary is told by the Archangel Gabriel that she is going to bear Jesus, the Son of God, as well as what Jesus is going to accomplish, what is there for Mary to doubt? In fact, the Greek words used in verse 38, “ghenòito moi,” are in the optative mood which is indicative that Mary enthusiastically and joyfully desired to participate in God’s word, not merely willing to submit to it.

Let us go on ... .

At Lk 2. 39-55 we find further irrefutable proof that Mary did not doubt her Son.
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord." [Emphasis added]

This is nothing less than a revelation from God. Talk about God-breathed Scripture! The Holy Spirit reveals to Elizabeth that the child Mary is carrying is Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. And note what else the Holy Spirit revealed to Elizabeth: that Mary believed in the words spoken by God to her through the Angel Gabriel! In light of this revelation about the complete faith of Mary in God's word, how can Kaycee or any other Protestants out there, suggest in good conscience that Mary doubted?
And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm,he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever." [Emphasis Added]

Mary’s Magnificat demonstrates beyond all cavil the completeness of the faith she had in God and His plan of salvation. The words she spoke do not suggest that she had any doubts. In fact, her statement of faith leaves no room for doubt at all.

At this point, I could rest my case and sit down, but there is even more evidence to consider.

Luke’s account of the Nativity of Our Lord, an event that a Calvinist e-apologist, who goes by the sobriquet of Turretinfan, in exercising his Christian Liberty feels is not worthy of celebration whatsoever, we find the following:
And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

"Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste, and found Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. And when they saw it they made known the saying which had been told them concerning this child; and all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart(Lk. 2:9-19). [Emphasis Added]

As verse 19 shows, Mary treasured all of the things revealed about her son in her heart. There is nothing suggested that Mary had qualms about her son in the text set forth above.

Likewise, the Scriptures later recount what happened when Joseph took his family to the Temple in Jerusalem so Mary could be purified and Jesus be circumcised. The following is recorded:
And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

"Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace,
according to thy word;
for mine eyes have seen thy salvation
which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to thy people Israel."

And his father and his mother (Joseph and Mary) marveled at what was said about him (Jesus); and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother,

"Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel,
and for a sign that is spoken against
(and a sword will pierce through your own soul also),
that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."

And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him(Lk. 2:22-35). [Emphasis Added]
According to tradition, Simeon was the son of the great Pharisee rabban, Hillel, himself. Again we see the Holy Spirit bestowing upon him a great revelation~that the son of Mary will bring God’s means of salvation for Jews and Gentiles. Note Mary’s response: she marveled. Marvel means to cause wonderment or astonishment. Doubt does not enter the picture. There is nothing in the inspired Word of God to suggest that Mary doubted. None whatsoever.

Note, too, after the Holy Spirit’s revelation to him, Simeon’s blessing also contains a prophesy affirming that Mary was linked with Jesus Christ in our redemption (Lk. 2:35). From Simeon's words at Lk. 2:35, we know that the Holy Spirit revealed to him that Mary is actually participating in Christ's redemption of the man through her sufferings. In short, she truly is the "Mother of Sorrows." This very un-Protestant-like verse tells us that Mary indeed is a co-redemptrix. See, John Paul II. Redemptoris Mater n. 16. [Note to the pooh-pooh-ers: We see St. Paul saying something similar about his sufferings at Col. 1:24.]

At Lk. 2: 41-52, we see another instance of Mary pondering the events and words of Jesus in her heart.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. And when they saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously." And he said to them, "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" And they did not understand the saying which he spoke to them. And he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. [Emphasis Added]

In the Gospel of John, we see Mary take an active role in kick-starting Jesus’ ministry at the wedding feast in Cana.
On the third day there was a marriage at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; Jesus also was invited to the marriage, with his disciples. When the wine failed, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "O woman, what have you to do with me? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you." Now six stone jars were standing there, for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with water." And they filled them up to the brim. He said to them, "Now draw some out, and take it to the steward of the feast." So they took it. When the steward of the feast tasted the water now become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward of the feast called the bridegroom and said to him, "Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now." This, the first of his signs, Jesus did at Cana in Galilee, and manifested his glory; and his disciples believed in him (Jn. 2:1-11) [Emphasis Added]
In this first of many miracles performed by Jesus in His ministry, Jesus actually performs it only after his mother intercedes. Despite Jesus’ first refusal to do anything to help the bride and groom, Mary’s unshakable faith in Him allowed her to order the servants to fill the wine jars. She KNEW that Jesus could and would save the wedding and the reputation of the groom and his family. In fact, as a result of Mary’s intercession, Jesus’ miraculous transformation of water into wine was the sign that caused His disciples to believe in Him. The sort of faith in the power of her Son Mary exhibited here is simply incompatible with any sort of notion that she doubted Him.

Finally, our study of the Scriptures closes with Acts 1:24:
All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Here, the Scriptures make it clear that Mary believed in Jesus and His Gospel for we see her with the Apostles praying and participating in the daily life of the nascent Christian community. Again, there is nothing in the text to suggest that Mary had ever doubted her son, Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, we have examined the Protestant misuse of Mark 3:20-21 as a sort of proof text that Mary had doubts in or about her son, thereby making her unworthy of being the quintessential example of a faithful follower of Jesus Christ which Catholics hold her out to be. I trust that I have demonstrated that nothing of that sort can be discerned from the passage. In fact, the Scriptures which I have put before you, kind reader, demonstrates that Mary was truly the very first witness to Christ’s divine nature and His mission to bring salvation to the world. She truly was the first Christian worthy of being honored as such. Further, I have provided the reader with a review of a passage (Lk. 2:35) which highlights Mary’s participation with Christ in our redemption by virtue of her truly being the Deipara, the Mother of God.

God bless!


Agellius said...

Very well done!

Martin T. said...

After RdP's recent post I read the whole thead at BA that included this nice work. I must say my favorite part was your remark about Mary deflecting Jesus's just anger being comperable to the Calvinist remarks about Jesus deflecting God's anger. I can remember one line answers.

Paul Hoffer said...

Agellius and Martin, Thank you both for your kind words. I have not yet had the honor of a reply from Kaycee. I would be interested to see if she still believes that Mary doubted Jesus in light of the Scriptural evidence I have presented here.

God bless!