Today is the 8th of December, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Many ascribe this to the dogma that was proclaimed in 1854 by Pope Pius IX. Though this dogma is not necessary for salvation, its good to ponder the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Birth of the Messiah – the Son of the Living God and how, if God wanted, He could have chosen a fitting vessel, a sinless one to bear the Holy One of God.
Recently my wife and I journeyed to London and had chosen Lourdes, France for a quiet retreat before continuing our travels to India. In the 1800’s this small town of Lourdes became the epicenter as the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Bernadette Suberou. (Check Netflix for “The Song of Bernadette or do a Google search on Our Lady of Lourdes). At the time, few believed her vision or story, but to her, the visit from the Blessed Virgin was real, and miracle after miracle occurred, and continue to today.
The Massabielle grotto continuously streams with lines of pilgrims seeking her intercession just as the Blessed Mother sought her son’s intercession at the Wedding of Cana in St. John’s Gospel, “Son they have no wine.” After the Lord objected to the timeliness of the “hour,” He complies with his mother’s request and performs His first miracle – changing water into wine in Galilee.
From the crib to Calvary and the cenacle (at the Pentecost) the Blessed Virgin accompanied her son as a faithful mother and disciple, thus being “blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Lk11:28) And the Fathers of the Church in Council of Ephesus acknowledged the Blessed Virgin as Theotokos – God bearer.
Lourdes, France, where pilgrims continue to visit.
Lourdes is the third Marian shrine I have visited besides Vailankanni in South India (close to Nagapattinam) and the Anglican Shrine of Walsingham in England. As all Anglicans do, I respect The Blessed Virgin and honor her; I do not worship her. My worship and adoration belongs to God and to God alone.
As we prepare for Christmas, the birthday of Christ, all Christians must consider the Blessed Virgin Mary and her role in the Birth of the Messiah. When humanity fell from grace through its disobedience, God promised a redeemer. God prepared the world through Patriarchs, Prophets and Kings for the coming of the Son of God. Then God sent angel Gabriel to ask for the consent of a young virgin of Nazareth.
God announced her role in Genesis 3, and prophets proclaimed her to be the virgin who shall conceive and bear a son (Isaiah 7:14). The same was confirmed through Angel Gabriel (Lk 1:28ff) and it was realized at His birth (Lk 2:7). This small mind of mine can only think that God could have chosen a vessel or receptacle that would be pure to house the Son of God.
All things are possible with God. I accept that and leave it to God that He could have made Mary sinless. I do not claim to play God and cast aspersions on “Hail Mary, full of grace.”
The dogma of Immaculate Conception is not something on which our salvation hangs or depends, granted. But how could the sinless Savior could have been born in a sinful womb – that defies logic.
Often some belittle the Blessed Virgin Mary with certain veiled jabs with the irreplaceable position of the Lord Jesus Christ, “We have only one Mediator that is Jesus Christ,” as though somehow the Blessed Virgin has replaced the only Mediator. They conveniently quote this verse to defend only a part of the argument, yet when in need of prayer, we ask family and friends to pray for us. Does that make us de facto intercessors who replace the one and only Mediator – Jesus Christ?
Apparently this “one mediator” argument is leveled each time we call upon the communion of saints to intercede on our behalf. They are before God’s heavenly throne and it is their duty to chant: “Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, and honor and power and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen!” (Rev 7:12).
Do those who believe they are intercessors when offering to pray for someone else think themselves greater than the Mother of our Lord and God?
These same folks are willing to accept Paul’s admonition to address each other ‘saints,’ yet do not care about the Blessed Virgin – the Blessed among all women and saint above all saints. When did we become better than the ones who lived and died for their faith in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? Which of us can compare equality with her who was addressed by God’s messenger as “Blessed.” In Luke 1:48, Mary declares: “For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed. Who among women can be called “blessed” for ALL generations?
I do believe in intercession and in fact I am alive today by the grace of God and the prayers of wonderful people, many of the prayers going to the Blessed Mother for her to intercede before God.
During my prayer, I had this special vision of the face of Christ (to the left) as I gazed on the Blessed Virgin. Just look at the image on the rock left of the statue of the Blessed Virgin. You will see the mouth in the rock, near the lower part of the statue. Mary always points to Jesus. It’s never about her, but the Savior she bore.
After leaving Lourdes, France we continued our journey to Nagapattinam, South India for follow-up to mission work we did when the tsunami hit, ten years earlier. A mosquito got me with its venomous inoculation. I ran high temperatures and visited a local doctor. Invariably the fever resurged each evening. Thankfully, we were toward the close of our visit and attempted a 12-hour night journey back to the city of Bangalore. My wife was hoping that we would make it without a problem, but my temperature spiked once the bus departed Nagapattinam.
Cutting it to the chase, I was diagnosed with dengue fever and severe dehydration and entered the ICU with failing kidneys, plummeting blood pressure, and extremely low blood platelets. My wife thought I wasn’t going to make it and perhaps she’d be leaving my mortal remains behind in India. She sent email requests for prayers. Hundreds of people responded. Thanks to all the prayers, God heard them and I am alive by His grace. It is a true miracle.
Lots of Rosaries and prayers for the intercession of the Blessed Virgin resulted in me getting back home safe and well. Upon my return home, several people told me, “I prayed asking the Blessed Virgin’s intercession and it’s a miracle you are alive.”
At times we need to fact check our hypocrisy when we conveniently assume the role of an intercessor before God for others and yet devalue the intercession of the communion of saints who have entered everlasting life by believing in Jesus who is the resurrection and life!
Or some quote the Lazarus story to say that the saints can’t come to your rescue – stating there is a great divide and they cannot help. The divide in the story is between heaven and hell. God is bigger, mightier, and so he empowers His Angels (messengers) and saints – all of them are His servants.
I believe in the Communion of Saints is part of the Apostles Creed – the baptismal creed that anyone who aspired to become a Christian must subscribe to since the early church. Acts 2:40 speaks of the manner the early church grew in the faith: And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42)
The Church was founded by our Lord Jesus Christ. I would rather rely on Scripture that was divinely inspired and tradition that was divinely guided (Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle. 2 Thess 2:15) and all the company of saints who lived and died as martyrs for their faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Let us embrace the fullness of faith and be concerned for the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. For us the Scripture, tradition of 2000 years (not the revised nor the one that sprung up yesterday) and reasoning guided by the Holy Spirit is sufficient to live and work for God’s glory and the great commission.