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Certainly, one of the most important titles ascribed to Mary by Catholicism is the Mother of the Church. The Roman Catholic institution gets this Mary-exalting teaching primarily from the words of Jesus, as He hung from the cross:When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home (John 19:26,27).
There is another way to interpret the above passage, which is much more consistent with other Scriptures describing Mary and how the original Christians viewed her. Before we look at these other relevant passages, let's examine the context of John 19:26,27. At that point in time, Joseph was dead leaving Mary a widow. This is derived from the last time we ever hear of Joseph, which was in Luke 2 when Jesus was in the temple at the age of 12. Eighteen years later when Jesus began His ministry, Joseph is never mentioned again with Mary, which is easily understandable if he had died, as many think. Instead of Joseph being with Mary (which is what we would expect) during Jesus' earthly teaching ministry, at the cross and in the Upper Room, Mary is frequently cited with only her other children (Mt. 12:46-49; Mk. 3:31-34; Lk. 8:19-21; Jn. 2:12; Acts 1:14) or alone (Jn 19:26,27).
Mary Was a Widow at the Cross
Furthermore, Mary's other children, born after Jesus, were all unbelievers during his earthly ministry. Scripture says:
Mary's Other Children
Were Unbelievers When Jesus DiedAfter this, Jesus went around in Galilee, purposely staying away from Judea because the Jews there were waiting to take his life. But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, "You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world." For even his own brothers did not believe in him. (John 7:1-5)So when Jesus was dying on the cross, Mary was a widow and her other children were not believers at that point. (Soon afterwards that changed.) Jesus, therefore, commissioned John to take Mary into his house and care for her, as he would for his own mother in the natural, which would make John like a son to Mary. The wiser and stronger takes care of the weaker and more feeble, so John took care of Mary. To misuse John 19:26,27 by reading into it that Mary was made Mother of the church has lead many to an unscriptural focus on Mary for one's spiritual needs, instead of looking to Jesus as the Bible declares.
Also, remember that taking care of widows is foundational to Christianity:
Christians Care For WidowsBut if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. (1 Tim 5:4)
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
Let us now consider other Scriptural evidence regarding this subject of Mary being the Mother of the Church. First, is this title ever given to her or anyone? Shockingly, it is found in Gal. 4:26, but not ascribed to Mary:
Jerusalem is our MotherBut the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother.Clearly, the Lord's apostle taught the heavenly Jerusalem is the mother of the church and not Mary. It should also be mentioned that the last time Mary is mentioned in the epistles is in this same chapter, but she was not named, even in the slightest way, as having any exalted role, as would be expected, if she was then the mother of the church. This is how Mary was referred to:But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, (Gal 4:4)Mary is shown in Galatians 4 to be just a woman and nothing more. Had Paul believed Mary was the Mother of the Church he had a golden opportunity at Galatians 4 to mention it but didn't!
Furthermore, in his epistle to the Romans, Paul mentioned who had "been a mother to him," but it was not Mary, the mother of Jesus:
"Who Has Been a Mother to Me"Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. (Rom 16:13)Rufus' mother was like a mother to Paul and the only mother figure he mentions. If Mary was the mother of the church, as some read into John 19:26,27, could Paul have stated this without a mention of Mary? Never!
It should also be stressed that the Lord Jesus never exalted Mary above his other disciples. Ponder Jesus' eternal words carefully:
Jesus Never Exalted Mary
Over His Other DisciplesPointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Mat 12:49,50)
"Who are my mother and my brothers?" he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:33-35)
Now Jesus' mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." He replied, "My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice." (Luke 8:19-21)
According to Jesus, all of his disciples are equal to Mary. She is not honored above the church as their mother, according to the Lord. Why then should anyone interpret John 19:26,27 in a way that is contradictory to these other related Scriptures? We need to let Scripture interpret Scripture.
Interpret Scripture With Scripture
One must also wonder why John never exalted Mary, or even mentioned her, in any of his epistles! The same can be said about Peter, whom Catholics were taught was the first pope. Certainly, he should have exalted Mary, like so many other popes have done throughout the centuries, but he apparently didn't think she had any special role in the various subjects he addressed in his epistles, which included salvation and prayer.
Getting back to Jesus, ponder his eternal teaching, which publicly refuted a woman who tried to exalt Mary on the basis that she gave birth to Jesus:
Jesus Refuted Her PubliclyWhile Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, "Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed." But He said, "On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it." (Luke 11:27,28)It was as though a present-day Catholic, who was trying to over-exalt Mary in Jesus' presence, was there and was openly refuted in public by the Lord.
One final Scriptural passage needs to be cited, which occurred after Jesus' death on the cross and when the disciples numbering 120, including Mary, were all gathered together:
Mary In The Upper RoomThey all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) and said, "Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through the mouth of David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus—he was one of our number and shared in this ministry." (With the reward he got for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.) "For," said Peter, "it is written in the book of Psalms, "‘May his place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in it,' and, "‘May another take his place of leadership.' Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John's baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection." So they proposed two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, "Lord, you know everyone's heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs." Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1:14-26)Peter and John were present, but again there is the absence of any kind of special honor that was given to Mary, even though she was supposed to be the Mother of the church at this point and allegedly declared such just several weeks before!
Furthermore, the disciples had an important prayer request, but didn't have Mary present it to God! Apparently, they also didn't consider her intercession as being more powerful than their own nor did they think she was mediatrix of all graces. Instead, they prayed directly to God and without going through a saint, such as Abraham, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc.
The Disciples Didn't Rely
On Mary's Intercession
Finally, ponder these about Mary's mothership of the church. Prov 1:8,9 read:
Ponder ThisListen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching. They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.If Mary is the Mother of the Church, why don't we have any words of wisdom from her to guide us? She wrote no New Testament books. Also, why aren't we shown that Mary was gently caring for the new converts to Christianity, as we would think is fitting for such a role:But we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. (1 Thess 2:7)But the point to all this is Mary is never shown by title or inference, in the whole of Scripture, to be the Mother of the Church, as Catholics think. In fact, there is more Scriptural evidence to deny this Catholic teaching than to affirm it.
To focus exclusively in on Jn. 19:26,27 to get this teaching is to mislead precious souls away from the truth and into something different than what the Bible declares about this issue, which has lead to the spiritual destruction of people who are trying to reach out to God, but doing it in an unscriptural manner. Salvation is only found in Jesus. We get to Him by going to Him sincerely and repentfully, but never through Mary.
Plan Of Salvation
Fifteen Promises Of The Rosary
Vatican Council II Teachings
Former Roman Catholic
John 6:53 and The Eucharist
The Immaculate Conception Of Mary
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