Mary – Highly Favored
The phrase highly favored is recorded in the gospel of Luke. The angel told Mary, “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” (Luke 1:28). Mary was blessed and highly favored by God because the Lord was with her. She had “found favour with God” (Luke 1:30). The term highly favored means simply “endowed with grace.”
This phrase titles Mary as the receiver of divine grace and favor, not the distributor of it. The angel Gabriel did not endow Mary with God’s blessing for personal merit that she can bestow upon others. The angel bestowed upon Mary nothing more than is available to all Christians through Christ. This is clear from the use of the same Greek word in Ephesians 1:6, where Paul says that “he [the Father] hath made us accepted” (literally, “he endowed us with grace”) in Christ.
Jesus And Mary
Jesus is the Creator, God in the flesh, while Mary is a created human being born in sin (Romans 3:23). She declared her need for a Savior saying, “And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). Although Jesus Christ always treated His mother with respect (John 2:4), He never honored her above other people (Matthew 12:48, 49). At the cross He did not address her as the “Mother of God,” or even as “mother”—He addressed her as “woman” (John 19:26). Neither Paul nor any other New Testament writer attributed to her any extraordinary merit, or special connection with God.
Honoring Mary – A Catholic Teaching
The Catholic honoring of Mary is not Biblical. It was a tradition that was adopted through the centuries by pagan myths and legends concerning the “queen of heaven” (Jeremiah 7:18; 44:17, 18; etc.). The exaltation of Mary became a dogma of the Catholic church at the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431. This dogma setting Mary as the “Mother of God” was adopted from a pagan female deity-of the Magna Mater, or Great Mother, of Asia Minor.
Gabriel’s greeting has been changed by the Catholic Church into a prayer to Mary as a mediator which is contrary to the Bible that teaches Jesus is our only mediator: “For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5).
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the prayer to Mary is composed of the angel’s words (1), with adding (before 1184) of the opening words of Elisabeth’s greeting to Mary in verse 42 (2), and more addition (by 1493) of a request for prayer (3), and a still later addition (4), made by 1495, and placed in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, with the whole form officially accepted in the Roman Breviary of 1568. Thus, humanly created, the Ave Maria reads as follows:
- Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee;
- Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
- Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners,
- Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Jesus Is the Way
The Catholic Church err by giving Mary, the mother of Jesus, undue devotion and adoration as an intercessor on behalf of humans. The Lord commanded His children, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27). This is a direct quote from Deuteronomy 6:5. To offer our devotions to God in the sense here stated and implied is to dedicate our entire beings, affections, lives, powers, and intellect to Him.
The Word of God clearly teaches that Jesus is the only Mediator and Intercessor between God and man. For “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name [Jesus] under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Christ is the way to salvation (John 14:6; 17:3). The plan of salvation offered through Jesus Christ (1) glorifies God as moral King, (2) upholds His law as the rule of government, (3) shows its divine source, (4) provides, through the sacrificial atonement, for the redemption of men as sinners, who are otherwise under God’s condemnation. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
Also check out, Is there any Biblical significance to praying the Rosary?
In His service,