Should Mary be exalted and if so in what way?
On social media, a member of the Baptist Religion claimed that Mary should not be honored; all honors should go to Jesus alone. Whatever love that I have for Mary, I am sure it is far less than Jesus love for His Mother. Some Protestants ignore her, malign her and in the most extreme cases try to associate her with demons or Satan. Again, I say some Protestants, because there are others who hold her in the highest regard.
The angel Gabriel honored Mary; she had found favor with god: “The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. (Lk. 1:26-31). Mary is to be the Mother of Jesus and has found favor with God. I think we should favor her as well.
All generations honor Mary, she is called Blessed: Mary spoke of the honors given her by God. “And Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Lk. 1:46). Wow! Look at the honors, and for all ages. Some are afraid that Mary might take away from Jesus. God did not share this fear; He honored her.
Elizabeth honored Mary: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at that moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:41-45). Elizabeth called her “most blessed” and was honored to have Mary in her presence.
Simeon honored Mary: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted (and you [Mary] yourself a sword will pierce) so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk. 2:34-35). A sword pierces Mary’s heart so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. That doesn’t sound like Jesus alone. Mary had a role as well.
Martin Luther honored Mary: Although many non-Catholics speak against Mary as though she is at odds with Jesus. On the other hand, not all Protestants do this, but hold her in high regard. Therefore, I must defend many of my non-Catholic brothers for also having a very high regard for Mary. The Protestant Reformers in general spoke highly of Mary. Fr. Martin Luther, spoke of his extremely high regard for Mary.
Martin Luther: “If our Lady were to enter Jerusalem today, in a golden coach drawn by 4,000 horses it would not be and honor great enough for she who bore in her womb our Savior” (Protestantism and our Lady, Fr George Rutler).
Jesus honored Mary, in fact, He obeyed her: Jesus honored His mother and Joseph by obeying them; “He [Jesus] went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them and his mother kept all these things in her heart” (Lk. 2:51). He did this in keeping with the fourth commandment of God, “Honor your father and mother” (Ex. 20:12). We should honor Mary, Joseph and all the Saints.
Jesus honored his Mother at the wedding feast of Cana. He did so by performing His first public miracle at her request. “When the wine ran short, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine’” (Jn. 2:3). Initially Jesus resisted, “my time has not yet come;” however, in the end, He did it anyway.
The angel Gabriel honored Mary. Do you honor her?
All generations call Mary Blessed. How do you call her blessed?
Elizabeth honored Mary. Do you honor her?
Simeon honored Mary. Do you honor her?
Martin Luther honored Mary. Do you honor her?
Jesus honored and obeyed Mary. Do you honor her?
Jesus honored her with his first public miracle. Do you honor her?
A quotation from Rev Charles Dickson a Lutheran minister: “Having been raised in a traditional Protestant atmosphere, I was led to believe that Catholics placed far too great an emphasis on the Virgin Mary in their faith and practice and that such an emphasis deflected from the centrality of Christ. But in some 30 years of ministry in a Protestant tradition I have learned that just the opposite is true. By upholding the importance of the Blessed Virgin, Catholics do not minimize the importance of Christ, but actually emphasize and underline His mission…” (Article, Why all the fuss about Mary).
The moment someone tries to explain to me, everything that Mary isn’t, I know they are coming from their tradition. The Bible explains what Mary is in relationship to Jesus, not what she isn’t. Sometimes my Evangelical friends will tell me that Mary is only a humble handmaid of the Lord. She should not be exalted, only Jesus. They are correct in that Mary is that humble handmaid of the Lord. They are incorrect when they say she should not be exalted. “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (Lk. 1:46). “Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you” (Jm. 4:10). The fact that she is that humble handmaid of the Lord, this is precisely why we exalt her.
If God exalts Mary in her humility, then who are we not to do likewise? Do you exalt her or explain her away as unimportant?
Does the Mother not love her Son? Does the Son not love His Mother? He does love her and when we love her, we imitate Jesus and honor Him as well. The notion of Mary taking away from the centrality of Jesus is found in some man-made traditions; however, it is not found in the Bible. Mary’s message for us yesterday, today and forever,
“Do whatever He [Jesus] tells you” (Jn. 2:5).