Τετάρτη, 15 Αυγούστου 2012

Mary in the Gospels

  
Mary in the Gospels

The reader of the Gospels is at first surprised to find so little about Mary; but this obscurity of Mary in the Gospels has been studied at length by Blessed Peter Canisius, Auguste Nicolas, Cardinal Newman , and Very Rev. J. Spencer Northcote.  

In the commentary on the "Magnificat", published 1518, even Luther expresses the belief that the Gospels praise Mary sufficiently by calling her (eight times) the Mother of Jesus. In the following paragraphs we shall briefly group together what we know of Our Blessed Lady's life before the birth of her Divine Son, during the hidden life of Our Lord, during His public life and after His resurrection.

Mary's Davidic ancestry
 
St. Luke (2:4) says that St. Joseph went from Nazareth to Bethlehem to be enrolled, "because he was of the house and family of David". As if to exclude all doubt concerning the Davidic descent of Mary, the Evangelist (1:32, 69) states that the child born of Mary without the intervention of man shall be given "the throne of David His father", and that the Lord God has "raised up a horn of salvation to us in the house of David his servant".  St. Paul too testifies that Jesus Christ "was made to him [God] of the seed of David, according to the flesh" (Romans 1:3). If Mary were not of Davidic descent, her Son conceived by the Holy Ghost could not be said to be "of the seed of David". 
 
Hence commentators tell us that in the text "in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God. . .to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David" (Luke 1:26-27); the last clause "of the house of David" does not refer to Joseph, but to the virgin who is the principal person in the narrative; thus we have a direct inspired testimony to Mary's Davidic descent.

While commentators generally agree that the genealogy found at the beginning of the first Gospel is that of St. Joseph, Annius of Viterbo proposes the opinion, already alluded to by St. Augustine, that St. Luke's genealogy gives the pedigree of Mary. 
 
The text of the third Gospel (3:23) may be explained so as to make Heli the father of Mary: "Jesus. . .being the son (as it was supposed of Joseph) of Heli", or "Jesus. . .being the son of Joseph, as it was supposed, the son of Heli" (Lightfoot, Bengel, etc.), or again "Jesus. . .being as it was supposed the son of Joseph, who was [the son-in-law] of Heli" . In these explanations the name of Mary is not mentioned explicitly, but it is implied; for Jesus is the Son of Heli through Mary. 


Her parents

Though few commentators adhere to this view of St. Luke's genealogy, the name of Mary's father, Heli, agrees with the name given to Our Lady's father in a tradition founded upon the report of the Protoevangelium of James, an apocryphal Gospel which dates from the end of the second century. According to this document the parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna. Now, the name Joachim is only a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim). 
 
The tradition as to the parents of Mary, found in the Gospel of James, is reproduced by St. John Damascene, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Germanus of Constantinople, pseudo-Epiphanius, pseudo-Hilarius , and St. Fulbert of Chartres. Some of these writers add that the birth of Mary was obtained by the fervent prayers of Joachim and Anna in their advanced age. As Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, so Anna is supposed to have been a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family .

The hometown of Mary's parents

According to Luke 1:26, Mary lived in Nazareth, a city in Galilee, at the time of the Annunciation. A certain tradition maintains that she was conceived and born in the same house in which the Word became flesh. Another tradition based on the Gospel of James regards Sephoris as the earliest home of Joachim and Anna, though they are said to have lived later on in Jerusalem, in a house called by St. Sophronius of Jerusalem Probatica. Probatica, a name probably derived from the sanctuary's nearness to the pond called Probatica or Bethsaida in John 5:2. It was here that Mary was born. About a century later, about A.D. 750, St. John Damascene repeats the statement that Mary was born in the Probatica.

It is said that, as early as in the fifth century the empress Eudoxia built a church over the place where Mary was born, and where her parents lived in their old age. The present Church of St. Anna stands at a distance of only about 100 Feet from the pool Probatica. In 1889, 18 March, was discovered the crypt which encloses the supposed burying-place of St. Anna. Probably this place was originally a garden in which both Joachim and Anna were laid to rest. At their time it was still outside of the city walls, about 400 feet north of the Temple. Another crypt near St. Anna's tomb is the supposed birthplace of the Blessed Virgin; hence it is that in early times the church was called St. Mary of the Nativity. 
 
In the Cedron Valley, near the road leading to the Church of the Assumption, is a little sanctuary containing two altars which are said to stand over the burying-places of Sts. Joachim and Anna; but these graves belong to the time of the Crusades. In Sephoris too the Crusaders replaced by a large church an ancient sanctuary which stood over the legendary house of Sts. Joachim and Anna. After 1788 part of this church was restored by the Franciscan Fathers.

Her Immaculate Conception

The Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady has been treated in a SPECIAL ARTICLE.

The birth of Mary

As to the place of the birth of Our Blessed Lady, there are three different traditions to be considered.

First, the event has been placed in Bethlehem. This opinion rests on the authority of the following witnesses: it is expressed in a writing entitled "De nativ. S. Mariae"  inserted after the works of St. Jerome; it is more or less vaguely supposed by the Pilgrim of Piacenza, erroneously called Antoninus Martyr, who wrote about A.D. 580; finally the popes Paul II (1471), Julius II (1507), Leo X (1519), Paul III (1535), Pius IV (1565), Sixtus V (1586), and Innocent XII (1698) in their Bulls concerning the Holy House of Loreto say that the Blessed Virgin was born, educated, and greeted by the angel in the Holy House. But these pontiffs hardly wish to decide an historical question; they merely express the opinion of their respective times.

A second tradition placed the birth of Our Blessed Lady in Sephoris, about three miles north of Bethlehem, the Roman Diocaesarea, and the residence of Herod Antipas till late in the life of Our Lord. The antiquity of this opinion may be inferred from the fact that under Constantine a church was erected in Sephoris to commemorate the residence of Joachim and Anna in that place. St. Epiphanius speaks of this sanctuary. But this merely shows that Our Blessed Lady may have lived in Sephoris for a time with her parents, without forcing us to believe that she had been born there.

The third tradition, that Mary was born in Jerusalem, is the most probable one. We have seen that it rests upon the testimony of St. Sophronius, St. John Damascene, and upon the evidence of the recent finds in the Probatica. The Feast of Our Lady's Nativity was not celebrated in Rome till toward the end of the seventh century; but two sermons found among the writings of St. Andrew of Crete (d. 680) suppose the existence of this feat, and lead one to suspect that it was introduced at an earlier date into some other churches. In 799 the 10th canon of the Synod of Salzburg prescribes four feasts in honour of the Mother of God: the Purification, 2 February; the Annunciation, 25 March; the Assumption, 15 August; the Nativity, 8 September.

The Presentation of Mary

According to Exodus 13:2 and 13:12, all the Hebrew first-born male children had to be presented in the Temple. Such a law would lead pious Jewish parents to observe the same religious rite with regard to other favourite children. This inclines one to believe that Joachim and Anna presented in the Temple their child, which they had obtained by their long, fervent prayers.

As to Mary, St. Luke (1:34) tells us that she answered the angel announcing the birth of Jesus Christ: "how shall this be done, because I know not man". These words can hardly be understood, unless we assume that Mary had made a vow of virginity; for, when she spoke them, she was betrothed to St. Joseph.The most opportune occasion for such a vow was her presentation in the Temple. As some of the Fathers admit that the faculties of St. John the Baptist were prematurely developed by a special intervention of God's power, we may admit a similar grace for the child of Joachim and Anna.

But what has been said does not exceed the certainty of antecedently probable pious conjectures. The consideration that Our Lord could not have refused His Blessed Mother any favours which depended merely on His munificence does not exceed the value of an a priori argument. Certainty in this question must depend on external testimony and the teaching of the Church.

Now, the Protoevangelium of James (7-8), and the writing entitled "De nativit. Mariae" (7-8), [43] state that Joachim and Anna, faithful to a vow they had made, presented the child Mary in the Temple when she was three years old; that the child herself mounted the Temple steps, and that she made her vow of virginity on this occasion. St. Gregory of Nyssa and St. Germanus of Constantinople adopt this report; it is also followed by pseudo-Gregory of Nazianzus in his "Christus patiens".

Moreover, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation, though it does not specify at what age the child Mary was presented in the Temple, when she made her vow of virginity, and what were the special natural and supernatural gifts with which God endowed her. The feast is mentioned for the first time in a document of Manuel Commenus, in 1166; from Constantinople the feast must have been introduced into the western Church, where we find it at the papal court at Avignon in 1371; about a century later, Pope Sixtus IV introduced the Office of the Presentation, and in 1585 Pope Sixtus V extended the Feast of the Presentation to the whole Church. 

Her betrothal to Joseph

The apocryphal writings to which we referred in the last paragraph state that Mary remained in the Temple after her presentation in order to be educated with other Jewish children. There she enjoyed ecstatic visions and daily visits of the holy angels.

When she was fourteen, the high priest wished to send her home for marriage. Mary reminded him of her vow of virginity, and in his embarrassment the high priest consulted the Lord. Then he called all the young men of the family of David, and promised Mary in marriage to him whose rod should sprout and become the resting place of the Holy Ghost in form of a dove. It was Joseph who was privileged in this extraordinary way.

We have already seen that St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Germanus of Constantinople, and pseudo-Gregory Nazianzen seem to adopt these legends. Besides, the emperor Justinian allowed a basilica to be built on the platform of the former Temple in memory of Our Lady's stay in the sanctuary; the church was called the New St. Mary's so as to distinguish it from the Church of the Nativity. It seems to be the modern mosque el-Aksa.

On the other hand, the Church is silent as to Mary's stay in the Temple. St. Ambrose [48], describing Mary's life before the Annunciation, supposes expressly that she lived in the house of her parents. All the descriptions of the Jewish Temple which can claim any scientific value leave us in ignorance as to any localities in which young girls might have been educated. Joas's stay in the Temple till the age of seven does not favour the supposition that young girls were educated within the sacred precincts; for Joas was king, and was forced by circumstances to remain in the Temple (cf. 2 Kings 11:3). 

What 2 Maccabees 3:19, says about "the virgins also that were shut up" does not show that any of them were kept in the Temple buildings. If the prophetess Anna is said (Luke 2:37) not to have "departed from the temple, by fastings and prayer serving night and day", we do not suppose that she actually lived in one of he temple rooms. As the house of Joachim and Anna was not far distant from the Temple, we may supposed that the holy child Mary was often allowed to visit the sacred buildings in order to satisfy her devotion.

Jewish maidens were considered marriageable at the age of twelve years and six months, though the actual age of the bride varied with circumstances. The marriage was preceded by the betrothal, after which the bride legally belonged to the bridegroom, though she did not live with him till about a year later, when the marriage used to be celebrated. 

All this agrees well with the language of the Evangelists. St. Luke (1:27) calls Mary "a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph"; St. Matthew (1:18) says, when as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child, of the Holy Ghost". As we know of no brother of Mary, we must suppose that she was an heiress, and was obliged by the law of Numbers 36:6 to marry a member of her tribe. The Law itself prohibited marriage within certain degrees of relationship, so that the marriage of even an heiress was left more or less to choice.

According to Jewish custom, the union between Joseph and Mary had to be arranged by the parents of St. Joseph. One might ask why Mary consented to her betrothal, though she was bound by her vow of virginity. As she had obeyed God's inspiration in making her vow, so she obeyed God's inspiration in becoming the affianced bride of Joseph. Besides, it would have been singular among the Jews to refuse betrothal or marriage; for all the Jewish maidens aspired after marriage as the accomplishment of a natural duty. Mary trusted the Divine guidance implicitly, and thus was certain that her vow would be kept even in her married state. 


Much more : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15464b.htm

Κατά Λουκά 1:46-55

Tότε η Mαριάμ είπε: Δοξάζει η ψυχή μου τον Kύριο, και βρήκε αγαλλίαση το πνεύμα μου στο Θεό, το Σωτήρα μου.
Γιατί έστρεψε το βλέμμα του στην ταπεινή του δούλη. Kαι να! από τώρα πια θα με μακαρίζουν όλες οι γενιές.
Γιατί μου έκανε πράγματα θαυμαστά ο Παντοδύναμος. Kαι είναι άγιο το όνομά του.
Kαι το έλεός του εκτείνεται από γενιές σε γενιές, σε όσους τον σέβονται.
Eπέβαλε την κυριαρχία του με το βραχίονά του. Διασκόρπισε εκείνους που ο νους και η καρδιά τους διαπνέονται από περηφάνια.
Kαθαίρεσε άρχοντες από τους θρόνους τους και εξύψωσε ταπεινούς.
Aνθρώπους πεινασμένους τους γέμισε με αγαθά, ενώ πλούσιους τους έδιωξε αδειανούς.
Στήριξε τον Iσραήλ το δούλο του, διατηρώντας στη μνήμη του το έλεός του αιώνια, όπως το υποσχέθηκε στους προπάτορές μας, στον Aβραάμ και τους απογόνους του.

And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers."

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