Jesus: Nature or Nurture?


#1

This is acutally a question about Mary as much as it is about Jesus.

I am in a conversation about Mary with a family member who I love. She is not Catholic. I am.

Curiously, our conversations began with some questions from her about Mary. She said that she “honored” Mary, but had trouble understanding the Catholic teachings on her. The door was opened, it seemed.

In the process of our exchanges, however, she has come to retract some of her previous statements by saying that Mary is a sinner just like the rest of us and not to be honored any more than anyone else. In all fairness, I think that she is probably saying this as a reaction to my position–not necessarily because she actually believes that Mary isn’t to be honored. That’s my Pollyanna perspective in any case.

The issue at hand. . .

One of our most recent exchanges has been about Mary’s true motherhood of Jesus. In essence, my FM (family member) says that Mary had no role in the conception of Jesus. . .she had no choice in the matter. As I attempted to defend the Blessed Mother’s faithful obedience, I said that Mary was truly the mother of Jesus as he recieved from her everything that a child recieves from a parent. She is his mother in every sense.

To that she responded (I’m quoting here): Mary didn’t make Jesus that way–she was a sinner just like the rest of us. Mary was imperfect and could have actually influenced him in the wrong way just because of her own sin nature.

Needless to say, I am less concerned at this point about her Mariology and much more concerned about her understanding of the Lord.

Any thoughts here?


#2

Hmm, so she’s worried that the mother of Jesus might have been a bad influence on him?

Tell her that’s precisely why Jesus–the Second Person of the Trinity–took great care to choose who would be His mother, and to protect her from sin–through the merits of His death on the cross–from the first instant of her conception.

He kept the commandments by honoring his mother–even before her birth.


#3

I KNOW. . .It is quite unbelievable that a Christian would even consider that God could be susceptible to bad influences of any kind–MUCH LESS his own mother who he chose from all eternity!

It seems to me that in her effort to not acknowledge or honor Mary in any way that she has made quite a difficult statement about Jesus–that’s my big beef here.

I fully intened in the course of our discussion (which will have to be in baby steps) to explore with her the Scriptural and historical Christian basis for what we believe about Mary (Immaculate Conception, Perpetual Virginity, etc.). However, I suppose my question for this forum is how to address her statement regarding Jesus.

Obviously, any comprehensive consideration of Jesus’ humanity would include his Blessed Mother and her role in his life. My thought is that Jesus chose (and created, as he is God) for himself the very mother that would nurture him in accordance with his human and divine natures.

So, how does that fly?


#4

Since she backed out of one statement it stands to reason she’ll back out of this one, too if given the opportunity. Just ask her if she really wants to say that Mary could possibly be a bad influence on the Son of God, whether she was a sinner or not. I think she’ll have to acknowledge she didn’t really mean that she could, which will drive her to think it through, if you don’t push her into a corner, if you know what I mean. Her giving it more thought can only be helpful to you and her coming to understand the Church’s teachings about Mary.


#5

[quote=JimG]Hmm, so she’s worried that the mother of Jesus might have been a bad influence on him?

Tell her that’s precisely why Jesus–the Second Person of the Trinity–took great care to choose who would be His mother, and to protect her from sin–through the merits of His death on the cross–from the first instant of her conception.

He kept the commandments by honoring his mother–even before her birth.
[/quote]

Hello Jim,

So, unlike the rest of us, Jesus, against her free-will, forced Mary not to sin? Well that takes the “Hail” out of the Hail Mary.


#6

[quote=Steven Merten]Hello Jim,

So, unlike the rest of us, Jesus, against her free-will, forced Mary not to sin? Well that takes the “Hail” out of the Hail Mary.
[/quote]

By your reasoning God shouldn’t have chosen Samuel, or David, or John the Baptist, or anyone else he called and whom he prepared for their part in doing his will. And I don’t think you really want to say that, do you? :wink:


#7

[quote=Della]By your reasoning God shouldn’t have chosen Samuel, or David, or John the Baptist, or anyone else he called and whom he prepared for their part in doing his will. And I don’t think you really want to say that, do you? :wink:
[/quote]

Hello Della,

Wow! God forced Samuel, David and John the baptist to be righteous? Why did God not force Satan to be righteous so Satan could be “glorious” like those you say God did force to be righteous? If God forced Samuel, David and John the baptist to be righteous against their free will, why not Satan? Obviously Satan would not have sinned if God would have forced him not to sin. Obviously if God had forced Satan to be righteous as you claim God forced Mary to be righteous, then Satan would be just as righteous as Mary. Is Mary’s righteousness being forced by God (as you suggest) supposed to glorify her? I believe it does the opposite. I believe that Mary, free from the will of God, obeyed God of her own free will and this is what glorifies her.


#8

[quote=Steven Merten]Hello Della,

Wow! God forced Samuel, David and John the baptist to be righteous? Why did God not force Satan to be righteous so Satan could be “glorious” like those you say God did force to be righteous? If God forced Samuel, David and John the baptist to be righteous against their free will, why not Satan? Obviously Satan would not have sinned if God would have forced him not to sin. Obviously if God had forced Satan to be righteous as you claim God forced Mary to be righteous, then Satan would be just as righteous as Mary. Is Mary’s righteousness being forced by God (as you suggest) supposed to glorify her? I believe it does the opposite. I believe that Mary, free from the will of God, obeyed God of her own free will and this is what glorifies her.
[/quote]

I said nothing of the kind, and you know it. :rolleyes: And if you think other people can’t see what you are doing by misquoting and deliberately miscontruing my comments, you are sadly mistaken in that, too.


#9

Della and Steven! OOOOOH. . .this is almost exactly the train of thought that has come from my discussion!

FREE WILL!

Inevitably, in considering Mary’s faithful obedience to the will of God, we must consider the broader issue of free will.

My only thoughts to add to this discussion are that we as Christians rarely ever question the “free will” aspect of the workings of God through Samuel, David, or even John the Baptist. We accept that they freely chose to do God’s will. Look also at Abraham or Moses. . .We honor them as men of God who co-operated freely with the grace that God gave them to do the great things he had in store for them. We recognize their gift of obedience and honor them for it–all the while recognizing that it is God working through them.

Same with Mary, who God filled with grace, to fill the role He destined her for from all eternity. Certainly, she had free will. She had as much free will as Eve did in the garden before the fall. Yet, unlike Eve, Mary chose to recieve the Word of God and co-operate with God’s grace.

Questioning if God “forced” Samuel, David, John, Abraham, Moses or even the Blessed Virgin Mary belittles their respective gifts of faithful obedience to God. God does not force anyone. He is a loving God who expects obedience and mourns the loss of even one soul through sin and disobedience.

It is important, I think, to recognize God’s almighty sovereinty and power in no way conflicts with our free will. Our gift of freedom is perfected by our adherence to God’s will. This is the model we see in these honored saints. We see them conforming their will to the Father’s for the sake of the kingdom.

Back to Mary. . .Of course, it is impossible for Mary to have been a bad influence on her Son. But, that also begs the question: Could Mary have been a good influence on him? This is, of course, speculative.


#10

Mary had free will, she could have refused the Holy Spirit, just as
any of us can…

Satan couldn’t successfully temp Jesus, there is no way a
’human creature’, which Mary was, could have…

Mary was the one who said, ‘let it be done’… and it was…

Mary, thru her obedience, became the ark of the new convenant…

the ark of the original covenant was made as nearly perfect as
humanly possible… to touch the ark was to die… for it held
the ‘word of God’…

just ask her to read the requirements for the original ark, that
held the stone tablets of God’s word… and the requirements
of how it was handled… how it was treated…

then imagine the ark that would be required to hold the Word
Made Flesh…

:slight_smile:


#11

The Arc of the New Covenant was my next step! Thanks!


#12

[quote=JaneFrances]The Arc of the New Covenant was my next step! Thanks!
[/quote]

:slight_smile: yeah, the parallels between the original arc and Mary’s
life are amazing…

:slight_smile:


#13

[quote=Steven Merten]Hello Jim,

So, unlike the rest of us, Jesus, against her free-will, forced Mary not to sin? Well that takes the “Hail” out of the Hail Mary.
[/quote]

[quote=Della]By your reasoning God shouldn’t have chosen Samuel, or David, or John the Baptist, or anyone else he called and whom he prepared for their part in doing his will. And I don’t think you really want to say that, do you? :wink:
[/quote]

[quote=Della]I said nothing of the kind, and you know it. :rolleyes: And if you think other people can’t see what you are doing by misquoting and deliberately miscontruing my comments, you are sadly mistaken in that, too.
[/quote]

Hello Della,

It is was my understanding that you were questioning my logic that if Jesus had to force Mary to obey then Mary’s obedience was not so glorious. Even Satan would have obeyed God in a situation where God forced him to obey. I believe that Samuel, David, John the Baptist and Mary all freely chose to love God out of free willed obedience to God.

What are you saying then? Please clarify. Did Mary and the prophets freely choose to love God through obedience or did God “prepare” them by forcing them to do His will and forcing them not to disobey?


#14

[quote=Steven Merten]Hello Jim,

So, unlike the rest of us, Jesus, against her free-will, forced Mary not to sin? Well that takes the “Hail” out of the Hail Mary.
[/quote]

No, He didn’t force her free will. He did choose His mother from all eternity, and filled her with Grace, from her conception onward. Grace enabled her to maintain her will in accordance with his.

(Grace does the same for us if we cooperate with it. But we are not so filled up with grace as she was.) It is not unlike the situation we will find ourselves in when we get to heaven. In the presence of the overwhelming Good, our human wills will be unable to sin, because they will be so profoundly attracted to God. Our human mind and will are, after all, made for God, and once in his very presence, meet their perfect fullfilment.


#15

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