“In the Bible, Mary was a sinner just like the rest of us. She said herself that she needed a “Saviour” (Lk. 1:47), and she even had to offer a sacrifice for her sins in Luke 2:24.”
The 1st part doesn’t make sense, from my knowledge, the Catholic Church realizes that Mary needed a Savoir, right? But, what about this, “and she even had to offer a sacrifice for her sins in Luke 2:24.” Why did she offer sacrifice for her sins when she was free from original sin?
She offered a sacrifice for her sins because she was under the mosaic law (and that was a requirement - in her case, due to her relative poverty, two pigeons as permitted by the law). Note, Jesus also accepted baptism from John, though he was free from sin.
In terms of her salvation, the Church teaching is that she was, through God’s grace saved through Christ before conception. The illustration I have heard others use is we all “fall into a pit” (that is sin) and are redeemed from it by Christ, but that in an act of grace, God saved Mary before she could fall into the pit. We take this on faith because the Church teaches it - but it is also “fitting”. Mary is often compared to the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark was entirely pure, so pure, no one but those authorized could even touch it without dying - it was consecrated exclusively to God. In the Ark were 3 things. The 10 commandments (word of God written stone), the staff of Aaron (sign of the Levitical priesthood) and the manna from heave (bread of life that sustained the Israelites in the desert. Mary is the new Ark (pure like Ark and consecrated for God’s purposes alone) - in her womb was Jesus (the Word in the flesh), Jesus (the better priest in the order of Melchizedek) and Jesus (the bread of eternal life). The Parallel’s are astonishing and the explanation point is that the Ark of the Covenant, which has not been seen for more than 2,000 years, appears again in the Book of Revelation together with the appearance of Mary (the women with the 12 stars over her head who gave birth to the Messiah).
Mary indeed needed a Savior, like we all do but in her case God saved her before she could sin–kept her from sin, and indeed kept her soul free of the desire for sin. He did this for her because she was to be the mother of his Son, not because of her own merits, so it was an act of pure grace on God’s part. When she states that God is her savior she means it. Except that for her God did it in preparation for her role in his plan of salvation, making it all God’s doing.
The offering Mary made isn’t an offering for sins committed but one required of all mothers who had given birth. It was a ritual cleansing demanded by Jewish law. So no, she wasn’t offering God sacrifice for her sins.
This is an apparent dichotomy that puzzled the Church for several centuries.
The Church was thinking about proclaiming Immaculate Conception back in the days of St. Thomas Aquinas. But the Angelic Doctor raised exactly the same question: if Mary was born immaculate then she had no need of a savior. But every person needs a savior. So how to reconcile these two ideas?
(you know you have asked a good question when Aquinas also asked it.)
Some accuse Aquinas of “rejecting” the idea, but he never rejected it, but merely questioned it. And nobody could come up with a good answer, so the teaching was tabled.
Over the centuries, theologians came to a greater understanding of how God operates external to time and space. The Sacrifice of Our Lord is eternal, reaching back into the past and forward into the future. Therefore, the merits of Our Lord’s Sacrifice could be applied to Mary in anticipation.
Pope Pius-9 made it clear that Mary needed the merits of Our Lord’s Sacrifice when he promulgated the doctrine of Immaculate Conception:
We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful. Ineffabilis Deus, emphasis mine]
Well not necessarily. There must have been exceptions to the law, such as a woman too ill to go through the cleansing rites. Rather I’d say a violation of law, but not personal sin unless willfully done with full knowledge. But since Mary fulfilled the law in all aspects, it’s a moot point.
And every firstling of an *** thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
Whether Mary was a sinner or not can be debated, but Luke 2:24 (“And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.”) is not evidence of the fact.
The interesting thing about Luke 2:24 is the verse actually says the sacrifice was offered for their purification. That means it wasn’t just Mary being purified, but someone else with her as well. Well, we know it’s not referring to Joseph, because the law did not require the man to be purified after his wife gave birth. That leaves us with only one other person who could have been purified along with Mary: Jesus.
So if anything, this verse proves too much for the Protestant case. If the fact that Mary was purified means she had personal sin, then that would equally apply to Jesus. Of course, they would rightly say that Jesus’ purification had nothing to do with personal sin but was about ritual defilement. Same thing can be said of Mary.
A way I have heard it explained was like this. You are walking along and there is a hole in the ground. You fall in and someone comes along, pulls you out and saves you. But what if someone came along and guided you around the hole so you did not fall in the hole in the first place. You still needed a savior but you were saved from falling in.
By the way which Protestants are you talking about? All Protestants do not share the same beliefs.
Martin Luther, even after he left the Church, said about Mary: “She is full of grace, proclaimed to be entirely without sin—something exceedingly great. For God’s grace fills her with everything good and makes her devoid of all evil.”
And he affirmed (as did Calvin) Mary’s perpetual virginity.
But even then you can’t generalize Protestantism because it is kinda like a roulette wheel: 'round and 'round she goes; where she stops, nobody knows. And we see that teachings of the founders like Luther and Calvin can fall out of party favor like the Soviet Politburo.
There were five types of offerings:
The two turtledoves or two young pigeons were burnt offerings, not sin offerings. The burnt offering was a dedication, a consecration of one’s life to God. The burnt offering does not atone for sin.
Leviticus 12:6 - And when the days of her purification are expired, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring to the door of the tabernacle of the testimony, a lamb of a year old for a holocaust, and a young pigeon or a turtle for sin, and shall deliver them to the priest:
In her song of praise in Luke 1:46-55, when the Virgin Mary refers to God as her Savior (v. 47), context shows that she wasn’t talking about salvation from the consequences of her own personal sins as your Protestant friend seems to assume but rather the Messianic expectation of salvation from the proud (v. 51), the mighty (v. 52) and the rich (v. 53).
It’s good we have reliable Bible commentaries to turn to explain such verses, such as Haydock’s:
Ver. 6. Lamb, to thank God for her happy delivery. — Sin, or uncleanness, which was esteemed a legal offence. Perhaps this sacrifice was also designed to expiate the sins she might have fallen into, (Menochius) since she was last able to offer one; and likewise the original sin of her female offspring. That of males was effaced by circumcision. (Haydock)
Mary had no sin to expiate, but being a good daughter of Israel she kept the law as prescribed, as did her Son.