Saturday, January 2, 2010

Spiritual envy: part two, case study

I'm now going to explain how the Blessed Virgin Mary is the greatest recipient of the sin of spiritual envy directed against her of any person in modern times. Yes, she's dead and in heaven and thus does not suffer to her face while alive the wrongs that spiritual envy induces, but remember I explained that there is a destructive influence on everyone involved, including distant second tier persons, of spiritual envy. I will make this a case study and it will help you to 1) better understand the destructiveness of spiritual envy and 2) better understand some of the false preaching that is prevalent today.

I must first say that this is a subject that makes me seethe. Those of you who are innocent and earnest in your wanting to learn more about this, understand that my seething does not, of course, extend to you, and that much of it is actually on your behalf.

Here are the two ways that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the victim of spiritual envy. I'm going to start by outlining the symptoms, and then backing you up into understanding the error and envy that these symptoms result from, and of course, the scriptural sources for correct reverence toward Mary.

1. The unbelievably frequent description of Mary, particularly around Christmas, both in "entertainment" (understandable heathen Philistines) and from the pulpits (unforgivable, and I even hear it from supposedly orthodox Catholics) as follows. I am going to let my seething come through here in the sharpness of my caricature: "Just think, Mary was JUST LIKE ANY GIRL, why EVEN YOU! She was just some poor, knocked up young girl, ignorant like everyone else in those days. She probably was nowhere near as pretty as those artists make her out to be, and she probably had dirty smelly feet and was just, you know, like some third world peasant girl. Gosh she must have been embarrassed to be knocked up by some older guy who she was only engaged to... oh wait, that's right, he isn't the father *tee hee.* So when it's Christmas time instead of reading the scriptures (all of it) and remembering who Mary really was, just imagine that you, you silly girls, COULD HAVE BEEN HER! Wheeeee!!!! Doesn't that make Mary "relevant to today!" She probably had BO too! And of course she was unsophisticated and clueless! But look how God could raise up even someone, well, you know, common and grubby like her!"

2. The Christian denomination or nondenominational (fill in the blank who) has "trouble" with "how the Catholic Church" "views" Mary. Like the Catholic Church is wrong. No, dumb wads, we actually read and believe the Bible, thank you very much.


OK, now I can relax that I took out the garbage and dumped it on the curb. Now let's get on with the actual Biblical Mary.

1. Mary was far from "uneducated" or "simple." We know this because she cites Old Testament scripture, complex and lesser known scripture, by heart as part of her indwelling by the Holy Spirit.

What Mary said:

[Mary was newly pregnant with Jesus and stated the following to her cousin Elizabeth]

And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; because he has regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; for, behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name; and his mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of his mercy-Even as he spoke to our fathers-to Abraham and to his posterity forever" Luke 1:46-55.

Scripture from which Mary is citing:

[This prayer was given to God by Anna, the mother of Samuel, who was the priest who anointed at God's instruction the first King of Israel, Saul, and then when God turned against Saul for Saul's sins, King David. Anna had been bullied and picked on for being unable to conceive a child. She prayed to God for a child and promised that if God gave her a child that she would dedicate that child to God's service. When God gave her a son, the boy Samuel, true to her word she kept him only until he was weaned and then gave him in service to God at the temple.]

My heart hath rejoiced in the Lord, and my horn is exalted in my God: my mouth is enlarged over my enemies, because I have joyed in thy salvation. There is none holy as the Lord is; for there is no other besides thee, and there is none strong like our God. Do not multiply to speak lofty things, boasting. Let old matters depart from your mouth; for the Lord is a God of all knowledge, and to him are thoughts prepared. The bow of the mighty is overcome, and the weak are girt with strength. They that were full before have hired out themselves for bread: and the hungry are filled, so that the barren hath borne many; and she that had many children is weakened.

The Lord killeth and maketh alive, he bringeth down to hell and bringeth back again. The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich, he humbleth and he exalteth. He raiseth up the needy from the dust, and lifteth up the poor from the dunghill, that he may sit with princes, and hold the throne of glory. For the poles of the earth are the Lord's, and upon them hath set the world. He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness, because no man shall prevail by his own strength.

The adversaries of the Lord shall fear him: and upon them shall be thunder in the heavens. The Lord shall judge the ends of the earth, and he shall exalt the horn of his Christ 1 Kings 2:1-10.

Spend some time studying the two scripture passages, which were separated by over one thousand years. Anna's prayer would not have exactly been a mainstay of regular preaching and worship in the synagogue during the time of Mary, though it would have been well known by the devout. The fact that part of Mary's canticle to Elizabeth is Holy Spirit induced prophecy while part is the most pertinent threads from Anna's prayer shows that this "young girl" knew her scripture by heart and was further able to extract from the scripture, under divine inspiration, those sentiments and prophecy most directly related to Jesus as Messiah and Mary as chosen by God for the highest favor. You can see why I seethe at all the totally un-Biblical implications that Mary was just a simple and uneducated girl; even a total dimwit can see that is not true if you actually read the Bible.

2. Mary was not just "any girl" or by any means "typical" of other girls, then or now, or EVER.

What the angel Gabriel said:

"Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art though among women" Luke 1:28.

Let me explain this to you slowly. What is grace? Grace is gift and favor given to humans, who cannot merit it for themselves in any way, since all grace is the gift of God. The vast majority of people go their entire lives without receiving much actual grace at all. Grace cannot be earned, but it most assuredly is given to those who are in the process of sanctifying themselves to God (as I've explained previously sanctification is putting God first by dedicating one's day to day life to God's will and service). So the vast majority of people receive some, but not much, grace during their entire life. Yet Mary, that "young girl" of modern cartooning is heralded by Gabriel, before she even knows that she will become pregnant with Jesus, with the title, the honorific of "full of grace." Mary is already full (and full means full, as in filled up, filled to the top, filled in every part of her spotless being) with GRACE. Um, who exactly can claim that? "Just a regular girl?" I think not. No one but Jesus himself due to his being and Mary due to God's planning and proclamation have been or will be full, as in complete, in grace.

Even those who are not envious and/or in denial of Mary do make in all innocence this mistake, so beware of that, and also another mistake that I explain now: Grace is not the same as a blessing. Grace is an actual infusion of gifting and purity from God, while a blessing is good wishes that anyone can bestow upon anyone else. We even say "bless you" when someone sneezes. So some people who don't understand the difference think that the angel is blessing Mary, as in giving her a blessing. He is not. He is stating what has already occurred and what God prepared Mary for: 1) Mary is already full of grace, so she's got as much grace as she can contain already and 2) Mary is already blessed by God. That is the situation before she even has explained to her the mission of the angel and her role as mother of the Messiah and Savior. So she already had all grace and blessing before even being in this extraordinary service to God as being mother to his son.

When people fool silly and stupid people of this generation into thinking "any of you girls" can "imagine what it would have been like if they were in 'Mary's position'" they are lying and defaming Mary. No one in their right mind would have DREAMED of saying such foolish delusion prior to this incredibly ignorant and arrogant, self satisfied, ego maniacal past few generations.

It is impossible to imagine what it is like to be filled with grace because only Jesus, by God's nature, and Mary, by preparation and conferral by God, have ever been in that state of grace. So no, nobody can identify with Mary, or Jesus, to that level. Humans can sympathize with Mary and Jesus in their suffering, for example, but they cannot at all empathize with either of them, as no one can have a reference point of the perspective of someone who is filled with grace and thus filled with God's given pureness.

In the Qur'an it is written And when the angels said: O Marium! surely Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above all the women of the world Surah 3:42.

Before progressing further regarding the true nature of Mary, let me reintroduce the point about spiritual envy. It is obvious that many people, both individuals and groups, in modern times (the past several generations) have a wrongheaded view of Mary that can only be attributed to spiritual envy. No one can claim to be Christian and be so stingy and denying of the God given grace and purity of Mary that deserves continual praise and role modeling, and that does not take one iota "away" from Jesus. What believer in God thinks that anything even can be "taken away" from God? How is adhering to what the scripture most clearly in black and white shows, for anyone to read, giving "too much to Mary" and "taking away" from Jesus? That is the very transparent and lame excuse, and I know first hand, for spiritual envy of Mary herself and also the institutions that continue to honor, love and revere her as she actually was and remains, now, in heaven.

3. Mary as prophetess.

We have already seen in the first scripture how Mary prophesies in her canticle to Elizabeth, even before Jesus is born, how the ongoing salvatory impact of Jesus will demonstrate God's mercy from generation to generation. Mary also, in a way, receives prophetic insight from the Holy Spirit regarding when it is time for Jesus to perform his first miracle. I marvel (not in a good way) about how many miss this point in the miracle of the wedding at Cana.

First I will tell you what happens using common speech. They are at a wedding and when the groom, the host, runs out of wine, Mary nudges Jesus to do something about it (and she does not mean his charge card; obviously this would have to be a miracle). Jesus rebukes Mary that it is not his time to go public with his miraculous abilities, but Mary overrides his objections and tells the wedding steward to do whatever Jesus tells him to do. Jesus obliges and performs the miracle.

This is an example of how one grace filled person can "know" when to urge the other grace filled person to action. Think about it. If you were just the average guy or gal who hung around with Jesus, would the first "miracle" occur to you to recommend to Jesus when you are at a wedding and they've run out of wine? Huh? Absolutely not. The "average" person would think of many much more dramatic or urgent situations to urge Jesus to perform his first miracle. But none of them would be ultimately as fraught with grace and meaning as the turning of water into wine miracle. Only Mary, filled by God with grace, would have been able to discern that moment, hearing and knowing and "magnifying" that moment and that place and that situation. Why was it so important? Read Luke 20:9-19, the parable of the vine dressers (the fruit of the vine being, of course, grapes for wine). When Jesus told that parable the chief priests and Scribes sought to kill him (Luke 20:19). Soon after that Jesus at the Last Supper took the cup of wine and said "take this and share it among you; for I say to you that I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God comes" and "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which shall be shed for you" (Luke 22:17-18, 20).

Mary by virtue of her fullness of grace hears the Holy Spirit and triggers the moment of Jesus' first miracle, which will be the foundation of his ministry, as Messiah and Savior, as both the true vine and the fruit of the vine.

And on the third day a marriage took place at Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now Jesus too was invited to the marriage, and also his disciples. And the wine having run short, the mother of Jesus said to him, "They have no wine." And Jesus said to her, "What wouldst thou have me do, woman? My hour has not yet come." His mother said to the attendants, "Do whatever he tells you" Luke 2:1-5.

Do you better understand what a disservice it is to, at best, willfully marginalize Mary's role in faith and salvatory history? After all, none of his newly called disciples realized that this was the time and the place where Jesus should perform his first miracle. Only the woman full of grace, his mother, could hear the prompting and be bold enough to insist that Jesus do so and he complies. Let me address the reason that Jesus seems to first object. I bet now you understand it, though. Jesus is not really objecting, he is saying "My hour has not yet come." That refers to what happens to the son, the cornerstone who is rejected, and is killed by the vine dressers, as I cited for you to read on your own in Luke 20. In Bible speak Jesus is not refusing, but saying that this is the beginning indeed that will lead to the hour that has not yet come, but will.

4. Mary as constant disciple to Jesus.

While those who are in error or those who are spiritually envious of Mary emphasize her low key presence and lack of much "mention" in the Gospels, what is actually emphasized is the continuity of her continual presence throughout Jesus' ministry. Mary did not sit around at home wondering how Jesus is doing while he traveled: she was there. By the way, notice how Mary was invited to the wedding at Cana and "Jesus too was invited" :-) The wedding at Cana needs to be understood as the turning point, as this was when Jesus performed his first miracle and thus his God given authority, having just been baptized and having called the first disciples. Jesus attends the wedding that Mary was invited to, and him also. Mary urges him to perform his first miracle in relation to the fruit of the vine-the wine-and Jesus does so. From this point onward Mary is following him as his most constant disciple, and Jesus has now by action, not by words, proclaimed his public ministry.

Now, you need to understand about Biblical life to understand this next part. Mary, as a widow, had to be supported by her son. Mary thus could not sit around back at the homestead, even if she wanted to, as Jesus was her source of support and Mary tended to him as they would have had they been at home. Mary and the brethren of Jesus were the core of the growing Christian model of the group accompanying Jesus in his ministry while at the same time providing the necessities of life along the way. Ha, you say, how do you know this? Yep, "it's in the Bible." This is why with Jesus' last breath on the cross he gave Mary to the Apostle John as John's mother, and John as her son, as Jesus had to hand over both that symbolic and literal role to John! It's not because they needed to update their business cards to say that John was now the son of Mary since Jesus had been crucified! It was because in those days the eldest son, (and thus, obviously) the only son, provided for his mother, whether at home or "on the road." Mary was with him throughout. I've blogged about this before but this is why Jesus had such pity for the widow who had just lost her only child, her son, and thus decided when encountering the funeral procession to raise him from the dead. Mary and Jesus were in exactly that same position where Jesus, ministry or not, had to support and provide for Mary, his mother, at all times.

Mary remained in the background, as did most of the many nameless disciples, so that those who would freshly hear the words of Jesus could press to the front. This is why you do not hear "mention" of Mary any more than you hear mention of the dozens of unnamed disciples who followed Jesus and the Apostles. She was with them on the outskirts whenever Jesus was about his business. You can read about this when Jesus uses the time that Mary and the brethen (Jesus' other relatives) wanted to speak with him but could not get through the crush. Jesus was not rejecting them, but rather (since he saw them all the time accompanying him) he delayed speaking to them so that he could show the crowd that those who follow his word are his family too.

Likewise when a woman raises her voice in the crowd and praises Mary, Jesus is not rejecting praise of Mary, but as per his ministry, redirects the praise to God. These are examples of how Jesus role modeled how believers must always look toward God, not from any rejection of Mary, of course, but from the ease with which the crowd could understand that the closeness of Mary and the brethren of Jesus to Jesus was now being extended to themselves, through Jesus. In other words, Jesus is saying that instead of focusing on the specialness of himself or of Mary, to start to think of yourselves as special family to Jesus and thus to God through your faith. This is as far of a marginalizing of Mary as you can get; rather, people are invited by Jesus to share in that specialness of closeness to him held by Mary and the brethren of Jesus (and all those unmentioned disciples who also were continually present). Thus Mary is continually present through the ministry of Jesus, through the crucifixion, and after his resurrection, through Pentecost, and then accompanying the Apostle John in all his ministry. The thought of Mary settled in some village is bogus and reflects a total lack of understanding of the handing over of Mary's care by Jesus on the cross to John. The care of Mary meant Mary's constant accompanyment of John, even in her advanced age to the area that is now the country of Turkey, as John unceasingly performed his evangelizing to his own great age of one hundred.

5. Protestants have no reason to marginalize Mary. but historically they have and still do. They should not and first of foremost, because Luther loved and revered her too.

I don't want to get too far afield from the main point, so I will leave it to you to research, if you want to, the depth of feeling that Luther himself had for Mary. I raise the point about Protestants, though, since we are left with the following fallout:

o "Anything but the Catholic Church" syndrome has falsely led many Protestants to marganalize Mary due to rejection of and spiritual envy of the Catholic Church. This is an example of what I alluded to in my first post on this subject, which is that once one is of a mindset toward spiritual envy, one starts to cherry pick scripture, highlighting those parts that seem to support one's view (the two instances I gave where Jesus is viewed, incorrectly, as rebuffing Mary presence and praise of her) while eliminating all reference to the remaining basis for legitimate and consistent reverence for Mary's role in the Church.

o "No one is as good as Mary was supposedly, so she could not have been so either" or "I could have been Mary too" syndrome has latched onto the first syndrome and is rampant in modern times. This too is based on spiritual envy of Mary. Here people deny that someone as Mary was really did exist (the usual attacks on her Immaculate Conception, the snarky comments that she "must have been sinful too" because "all humans are sinners," thus ignoring the "full of grace") thereby concluding that the biblical Mary was not really as she really was. The whole point of Mary is that she WAS the one and only; she was, as both Gospel and Qur'an attest, the purest and totally unique. Spiritual envy blinds many today to that obvious truth because they are, incredibly, jealous of the purity of the mother of the Savior.

Even more ludicrous is the notion that while no one could have really been as pure and good as Mary, therefore the "Mary claimant and imitator/imposter" field is wide open. People start to think if Mary could not have been as unique, predestined, God filled in grace and purity, if she must therefore in their minds be something "less" than that, this "opens the field" to people claiming to "channel" Mary or to be "reincarnated" Mary. This is all, again, spiritual envy based. It is back to my original exposition of the links where envy leads to denial and then coveting. Many modern people envy what Mary really was and remains (step one) so they deny that she was exactly as the Bible and the Qur'an state (step two) and then, having "cut her down to size," they next figure they can claim some portion of the spirituality of Mary that they so envy and covet (step three). Thus you have egregious and blaspheming charlatans who lay claim to a spiritual identity that belongs (as each does, of course) to only that one and only original person, but they do so only after denying and diminishing it enough that they can think they can reasonably claim it as their own.

I hope that this helps you, dear reader, to understand through this crucial faith case study how spiritual envy is a terrible sin full of actual destructive power that resonates through generations and erodes genuine faith even in those who are not fully culpable and participating. As I pointed out above, I've been shocked (hardened and saddened as I am) by proportedly orthodox thinking Christians, including Catholics, who bought into the barefoot dirty waif who though ignorant and ordinary becomes baby Jesus momma. Let's put it this way. I would be willing to bet you an awful lot that Luther, when he died and faced his maker, was very glad that he never lost sight of who Mary was, and what reverence and love is due to her. It would be wise to make this the last Christmas where knocked up "I can relate" Mary baby Jesus momma is promulgated in entertainment and preaching. Yes, tired as I am I got to seething again here, as I do whenever I think of that plain out insulting image of Mary. I won't lie, I've wanted to punch some preachers in the nose when I hear that rubbish and Hollywood, I'd totally given up on them anyway but seething remains.

Young people, hi again, hope you've hung in there through this long exposition and that it's helpful to you. Do not be afraid to believe the truth that genuine God given purity and goodness did exist on earth and remains so, of course, in heaven. All this in the praise of the name of Jesus.