• October 17, 2019

Mary honored for devotion - Odessa American: Religion

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Mary honored for devotion

Mother of Jesus a young teenager when she gave birth to the Messiah

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Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2019 5:00 am

The story of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is one of powerful faith and humility, great character and a submission to God’s will that has earned the respect of Christians ever since, ministers say.

The Revs. Aubrey Jones, Rodrigo Munoz, Becky Hand and Michael Sis say Mary was probably 14 to 16 years old when the angel Gabriel came to her in Nazareth with news even more astonishing than his brilliant, intimidating appearance.

According to Luke 1:28 and 31-32, Gabriel exclaimed, “Greetings, you who are highly favored!

“You will conceive and give birth to a son and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. . .”

“We’re not told a whole lot about Mary, but she appears to be faithful and trustworthy,” said the Rev. Jones, pastor of Chapel Hill Baptist Church. “She has a heart to serve God and how she responds to Gabriel says a lot about her character when she says, ‘I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.’

“It’s magnificent how God uses the lowly to humble the mighty.”

Jones said it’s an oversight by many churches not to give Mary the respect she deserves. “It’s clear that she was an exceptional lady,” he said.

“It is a pity that a lot of churches, especially in the Baptist tradition, for a long time have shied away from Mary because there is a lot to learn from her example. God doesn’t just use his men in his work. He uses all of us and that includes women.”

Noting Mark 6:3, which says Jesus had four brothers and at least two sisters, the Rev. Munoz said Mary “was a godly woman who loved the Lord and is an example to other women because she was dutiful to her family.

“It must have been hard on her, raising God in the flesh,” said Munoz, pastor of Iglesia Roca Solida. “Can you imagine being in her shoes? It was a huge responsibility because she knew who he was. She was the vessel God used to bring Jesus Christ into the world so he could redeem us and we honor her for that.”

Although the Bible doesn’t say a lot about Mary, he said, it is apparent that God “was more pleased with her than he was with anybody else to choose her out of all the women.

“His brothers and sisters had a hard time accepting him as who he was, so I’m pretty sure they had their little squabbles and arguments,” Munoz said.

The Rev. Hand, pastor of Life in Grace Lutheran Church, said Mary “was a faithful person who met Gabriel and heard him say, ‘This is the Lord’s will.’

“It had to be incredibly hard when Gabriel told her what was going to happen to her,” Hand said. “But her faithfulness shows when she says, ‘May it be to me as you have said.’

“God has called me to do much less difficult things and I can’t say I have always accepted it as quickly as she did. She gave birth to someone who was fully human and fully divine and accepted that choice in faith.”

Hand said Mary’s most significant contribution “is just in being the mother of our Lord.

“The fact that she and Joseph were both poor shows that God works through the lowly and those we least expect,” she said. “He values things in people that we don’t see like faith. He was more concerned with her heart and what kind of person she was.

“She basically gave birth in a barn. The King of Kings was born in a barn.”

The Rev. Sis, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, said Mary “would have been just another Jewish country girl from a dusty hill town in Galilee” if not for her oldest son.

“Most Christians love Jesus Christ,” Sis said. “If you truly love someone, you will typically also respect their mother. It is my love for Jesus that leads me to love his mom.

“There is only one redeemer, Jesus Christ, and Mary is always subordinate to Jesus Christ her son. Mary should not be worshipped. She is a human being and a fellow member of the church. As such, we ask her to pray for us just as we would ask one another any day for prayer support.”

Asked why God chose Mary, Sis said, “I don’t think it was because of anything she did or accomplished.

“I think it was a totally gratuitous choice on God’s part for reasons we will come to learn only in the next life.”

The bishop said the pictures, icons, necklaces and statues of Mary in Catholic churches “are not idols.

“They are simply reminders of a person who is very special to us,” he said. “Similar to the photographs of loved ones in our homes or the pictures of George Washington in our schools, artistic depictions of Mary are meant to serve as reminders of that important person. They inspire us to follow her good example.”

Citing John 19:25-27, Sis said Jesus “handed his mother over to his beloved disciple John and John then took her into his own home.

“Tradition says John brought Mary to Ephesus when he went to serve the church there. Archaeological work has identified an ancient house near Ephesus (on Mount Koressos in Turkey) that is called ‘Mary’s House’ and I visited that place in 1989. It is honored and respected by both Christians and Muslims.”

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