[quote=javelin]The following quote is from another thread. Hurst is just great with his Scripture references! I hope he doesn’t mind this being copied here…:o
He said that it was possible that John the Baptist and other prophets were also immaculately conceived (although I don’t believe it is dogma). The response below was to someone asking if that claim was scriptural:
So, if John the Baptist was also immaculately conceived, then Mary’s Immaculate Conception does not by necessity make her “greater” than John. I’m not saying that she’s not greater than John, though, just that her I.C. does not make her so.
But really, would it be so strange that Jesus was using a hyperbole to make a point, and that He didn’t literally mean every person? Since, as you pointed out, Jesus himself was born of a woman, and we know John the Baptist was not greater than Jesus, we can certainly conclude that Jesus was not speaking absolutely, but figuratively, to solemnly describe how great the kingdom of heaven and its members are.
John the Baptist wasn’t immaculately conceived but he was born without the stain of original sin on his soul, which is what the Scripture verses cited in your post mean. The Church celebrates only 3 birthdays: Jesus, Mary, and John the Baptist because Jesus, being of divine origin cannot have original sin on his soul, Mary, having been immaculately conceived was born without sin, and John the Baptist, who did not have the stain of original sin although he was not immaculately conceived.
Also, Jesus was referring to this fact and to the fact that John was “Elijah” the “herald of the Son of God.” He was not commenting on Mary in this context but on why John, as the last of the prophets before himself, and born without the stain of original sin, was the greatest of the prophets as juxtaposed against John’s seeming lack of faith for sending his disciples to ask Jesus, earlier in the chapter (cf. Mt. 11:2), if he was truly the one for whom Israel had been waiting so long.
When studying Scripture context and the intent of the author trumps any other possible interpretation, as well as the ongoing teaching of the Church of which the Bible is the prime witness.