[Opinion] Mary Is The Help Of All Christians, Both Catholics & Protestants
In the Catholic Church, the month of October is traditionally designated as the month of the Most Holy Rosary. The liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7.
The feast was introduced by Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) in the year 1571 to commemorate the miraculous victory of the Christians forces in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The pope attributed more to the “arms” of the Rosary than the power of cannons and the valour of the soldiers who fought there.
Mary was helpful to the Christian forces who fought in that battle and she is indeed helpful to us today as Christians. Christians must always remember that the Mother of Jesus Christ is the Mother of Us. And we must always seek her help and she is always ready come to our aid.
But the bigger question that: Is Mary the Help of All Christians? poses a categorical statement that some Protestants deny. Is Mary the Help of Christians or Mary is the Help of All Christians? Can all Christians fly to the patronage of Mary? Do we at all need the help of the Mother of God who is Mary? Can the name and the help of this humble yet favoured woman be erased from the history of our salvation?
The first pages of the Bible speaks of this woman in what is called the Protoevangelium: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15). This “first gospel” (protos meaning “first” and evangelion meaning “good news” or “gospel”) already reveals the help of a creature-woman who will help in the history of Salvation.
This was fulfilled in Mary who gave birth to Jesus who came to bruise the head of the ancient serpent (the devil). The last pages of the Bible also speaks of the “Woman and the Dragon”. Who is this woman that appears on both the first pages of the Bible (Genesis 3:15) and on the very last pages of the Bible (Revelation 12)?
Mary is the vanquisher of the Devil
After what happened between our first parents and God when sin entered the world, the conclusion was that there exists a state of enmity between the devil and the posterity of Adam and Eve, especially Mary and her Son. “After the Fall, God does not abandon humankind but establishes his plan of salvation. Everything comes from him and his goodness, but human beings must participate in the Divine Plan, which is carried out through humans and with humans. This participation consists in the struggle against the enemy, an enemy of cosmic proportions”. And Mary was the one privileged and highly favoured to be the Mother of God who will vanquish the devil.
All Christians must run to this woman for help since she is the Mother of God and the one who also participated in the salvation history that changed our states to become again sons and daughters of God. Mary gave birth to the “second Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:47) who vanquished the devil.
Should Protestants seek the help of Mary?
The first generation of Christians gave a singular honour and devotion to Mary. The Angel of Incarnation greets her with great respect as “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) and her cousin Elizabeth does likewise by the words “Mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). If the first generation of Christians revered and cherished the singular honour Mary received, then who are we to label and tag this woman with names that do not honour the Mother of God?
Some Protestants seek the help of Mary like how the couples at the wedding feast in Cana sought the help of the Mother of God (John 2:1-11). Mary’s help solicited the first ever miracle of Jesus: “Jesus did this, the first of his signs (miracles), in Cana of Galilee, and it revealed his glory; and his disciples believed him” (John 2:11).
Mary is indeed the help of all Christians. In his book The Real Mary: Why Evangelical Christians Can Embrace the Mother of Jesus, Scot McKnight opines that “We are Protestants; we believe in the Bible; Mary is in the Bible; we need to believe what the Bible says about Mary.” These very words of the Protestant American New Testament scholar reveal how important and essential Mary is to the whole of Christendom.
The next time we shout blood of Jesus, let’s pause and think about whose blood flowed through the body of Jesus Christ. (Think about this before you malign Mary who is the Mother of God)
Mary indeed is the help of all Christians!
People may argue that generalizing the help of Mary to all Christians will be fallacious. But even the virginal birth of Mary and Jesus Christ defies all logic. How can someone be given birth to without the sexual intercourse of both parents? Therefore, in the realms of salvation history most of the lines of the history were defied logics.
God implored the help of Mary when He proclaimed the “first gospel” in the book of Genesis 3:15. If God Himself who is the Creator of the Universe and all creatures implored the help of a creature-woman, then we must not be ashamed to do likewise.
From the very beginning Catholics have called upon Mary, especially in times of adversity, trials, heresies, persecutions, and wars. We can implore the help of Mary in this times of the Coronavirus so that she can also implore the help of her Son: “In these and in all other troubles of life, Mary’s power is most far-reaching. She has the most ardent desire to bring consolation, strength, and help to every race of children so dear to her” (Magnae Dei Matris “Great Mother of God”).
At the cross, Jesus Christ presented all Christians to Mary in that powerful statement: “Woman, behold your Son” (John 19:26). All Christians must be ready to fly to the patronage of this Woman who is ever ready to present Us to her Son. We must get it right that she is not God but the Mother of God. And that “standing at the right hand of her only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, she presents our petitions in a most efficacious manner. What she asks she obtains. Her pleas can never be unheard” (Ineffabilis Deus).
In times of help, let us call for the help of the Mother of God, Mary in the prayer:
Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians
Mary, powerful Virgin,
you are the mighty and glorious protector
of the Church.
You are the marvelous help of Christians.
You are awe-inspiring as an army in battle array.
You eliminated heresy in the world.
Amid our anguish, struggle, and distress,
defend us from the power of the enemy,
and at the hour of our death
receive our soul in heaven. (St. John Bosco)
Source: Michael Selasi Combey