A radio listener calls in to the Busted Halo Show with a two-part question for Father Dave: “Mary as a whole … I understand personally why we hold her in such reverence, but just being able to articulate that to my friends and family [who aren’t Catholic] is something I have trouble with. And also — praying for [Mary’s] intercession and intercession as a whole … [why do we] pray for the intercession of saints?”
Before giving his own answer, Father Dave asks the caller to delve into what she personally understands the significance of Mary to be in her own faith. She responds: “Well, she is the mother of Jesus, and I don’t think that’s really anything to be taken super lightly. A lot of the Protestant people I know just kind of gloss over that fact and say, ‘Eh, she gave birth to him, and then she just disappears.’ But she did some stuff after that, like raised him!”
Father Dave explains that “there has been, on the part of the Christian people, great devotion to Mary since the first couple of decades after Jesus’ resurrection, and [that devotion] persists today. Not to be confrontational, but I would ask [your friends and family members who are challenging you on this], ‘Why get rid of that [after hundreds of years]?” He continues, “You could make the argument academically [that] just because you did something for [hundreds of years] doesn’t make it right. But I think the issue is…the way in which God reveals Himself in the hearts of people of faith.”
In discussing the importance of the relationship between Jesus and His mother Mary, Father Dave cites the Gospel of John: “At the wedding at Cana, where [Jesus] goes to her, and [Mary] points to the waiters and says, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ That relationship there, where she’s interfacing with the regular Joes and the standard human people … and Jesus is talking to her and saying, ‘I don’t know if I should do this miracle,’ and Mary says, ‘Oh, what are you talking about? What are you hemming and hawing for.’ And then she turns and says to the people, ‘Go ahead. Do what he tells you.’ She, in that instance in that story, is acting as an intermediary — as an intercessor. [Mary] is connecting people to that miracle, when Jesus turns water into wine.”
The Bible is filled with stories of those who intercede to God on behalf of ordinary people. We pray directly to God and talk to God ourselves, but it is also a very common practice (with abundant scriptural precedent) to pray for a saint or angel to intercede and petition God with us. In the story of the wedding at Cana, Mary not only plays an important role in Christ’s performing of the miracle, but, as it is described in the Gospel of John, Mary is the one who is actually invited to the wedding, and Jesus happens to be there.
Father Dave says, “We can even extrapolate from that … that maybe the people who were having the wedding knew Mary personally and didn’t know of Jesus because he had been away. It was easier for them to invite Mary because they had a connection with her, for whatever reason.” The result is that “they were able to experience a miracle of Jesus because of Mary. And for us and for many, many people…the accessibility, if you will, of Mary [helps us to grow closer to God].” (Original Air 04-03-17)