Thursday, March 16, 2017
Does Luke 1:28 Support Roman Catholic Mariology?
"The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice." It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son." (CCC # 722).
The best description that we get about Mary from the pages of Scripture is that she is "the Lord's servant" (Luke 1:38). Nothing much else is said of her. It is therefore unrealistic to go from describing Mary as being an instrument used by God to accomplish His purpose to being a woman who was conceived without sin, ascended into heaven without physical death, and being exalted as queen of heaven. Moreover, there is nothing in this context allowing for the use of random titles to exalt Mary, offering prayers to her or building statues of saints to bow before, and fails to mention anything about future Marian apparitions.
The context reveals important sayings of Elizabeth, Mary, and the Angel Gabriel. However, nothing is said about Mary's sinlessness. Furthermore, we need to ask why Gabriel would announce the important message of Mary's birth so many years after the occasion took place (when she was a fully grown woman)? Both the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and John the Baptist were proclaimed before their birth dates. It would be strange to make a prophecy of an event after the fact that it has already happened. The context of Luke chapter one is all about the conception of Jesus.
The phrase "full of grace" is not found in our Greek manuscripts. It is derived from a faulty translation of Jerome in his fourth century Latin Vulgate. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. Thus, the Roman Catholic Church has derived its doctrine from a corrupted Latin translation (not the Greek original). Interestingly, most modern-day Catholic Bibles do not have the rendering "full of grace." Examples of reputable translations omitting that term would include the New American Bible and the New Jerusalem Bible.
"But the term kecharitomene (full of grace) serves only as an illustration, not as a proof of the dogma." (New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, under “Immaculate Conception”)
"The words of Gabriel, “Hail, full of grace” (Lk. 1.28), have also been appealed to as a revelation of the Immaculate Conception, on the grounds that to be truly full of grace, Mary must have had it always. This interpretation, however, overlooks the fact that the Greek term κεχαριτωμένη [kecharitomene] is not nearly so explicit as the translation “full of grace” might suggest. It implies only that God’s favor has been lavished on Mary, without defining the degree of grace." (New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume VII, Page 378)