This Wednesday we had the pleasure of Bob Buschine giving a presentation about our Blessed Virgin Mary from the Protestant perspective.
The first question discussed was how we as Catholics worship the Blessed Virgin. We discussed what “Worship” means.
The Hebrew word for “Worship” that came to mind in the discussion was, “השְׁתַּחֲוֶ,” “Ishtachu” which means to place one’s face in the dirt in humble adoration. This is not what we do when we venerate Our Blessed Virgin. The second word is the Greek word, “λειτουργία,” ‘Liturgy,” which means public service. We do not bow down to Our Blessed Virgin any more than Gabriel gives to Our Blessed Virgin in Luke 1:28.
During the class, we discussed the translation of Luke 1:28, “εἰσελθὼν πρὸς αὐτὴν εἶπεν, Χαῖρε, κεχαριτωμένη, ὁ κύριος μετὰ σοῦ.” Gabriel came to her (Our Blessed Mother) and said, “Greetings to you who are full of grace, Kyrie is with you.” We discussed what this might mean. Protestant interpretations argue that it means, “Highly favored.” The Catholic version states, “Full of Grace.” The oldest known translation of the text, Peshitta Aramaic text translates the passage as:
“שלם לכי מלית טיבותא מרן עמכי בריכת בנשא܂” “Peace to you, full of grace…”
The agreed upon point is that Gabriel shows Our Blessed Virgin great honor. Therefore, we should as well.
We give public service to Our Blessed Virgin. We find the reason in Revelations 12:17. This passages states, “The Taanah (Sea Monster, whale?) became angry with the woman and went off to wage war against the rest of her offspring, those who keep God’s Mitzvah and bear witness to Jesus.”
Who is the woman? Revelations 12:5 states, “She gave birth to a son, a male child, destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod. Her child was caught up to God and his throne.”
This clearly refers to Jesus. The woman must be Our Blessed Virgin. Who are the offspring of Our Blessed Virgin? Her offspring are those who keep God’s Mitzvah and bear witness to Jesus. Agreeing with the concept of “λειτουργία,” “liturgy,” our devotion to Our Blessed Virgin has a faith response, public service.
We find our public service in Our Blessed Virgin’s Magnificat, ““My animate being proclaims the greatness of the Kyrie. My spirit rejoices in God my savior. He has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me happy. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and Dedicated is his Name. His mercy is from age to age to those who look to him.
We discussed that in reading this passage, we need to keep in mind that our Blessed Virgin is a poor girl talking to one of the richest women in Jerusalem, Elizabeth. The rich have always been seen as arrogant, deserving to receive what they have, far more than anyone else. God dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He pulls down the rulers, which Zechariah as a high priest would be one. Elizabeth is his wife. God fills the hungry with nobility, and the rich, Zechariah and Elizabeth he sends away empty.
Our faith requires a faith response, helping God as he reestablishes distributive justice on earth. To the degree that we follow this Mitzvah of God, we are the children of our Blessed Virgin, and giving public service, not to her, but to each other and through giving service to each other, we give service to God. The ultimate debate about our Blessed Virgin is about whether we are rugged individualists with a Protestant work ethic, or whether we are a community with Mary as our mother, and God as our father. We must plead guilty to this charge of giving public service to Our Blessed Virgin, by giving public service to God, who she points to.