Book Critique of MARY, The Church at the Source by Ratzinger and Balthasar

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

MARY, The Church at the Source
Thoughts on the place of Marian Doctrine and piety in faith and theology as a whole
By Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI)


2. “Et Incarnatus Est”: The Biblical Background

Page 84: In order to understand the full depth of this central sentence in the profession of faith, we must go back behind the Creed to its source: Sacred Scripture. When we examine it more closely, this part of the Creed proves to be a synthesis of the three major biblical texts attesting to the Incarnation of the Son: Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 2:26-38; John 1:13f. Let us attempt, without entering into a detailed exegesis of these texts, to understand something of the unique and distinctive contribution each of them makes to the understanding of the Incarnation of God.
Note: The Incarnation of God did not require Mary’s obedience.
Then, as He was now drawing near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works they had seen, saying: “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’ Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees called to Him from the crowd, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” But He answered and said to them, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” Luke 19:37-40.
Note: God will never be dependent upon human beings for His will to be done.

Pages 84-85: a. Matthew 1:18-25. Matthew writes his Gospel with the Jewish and Judeo-Christians worlds in mind. Thus, his concern is to underline the continuity between the Old and New Covenants. The Old Testament is on its way to Jesus; in him the promises are fulfilled. At the same time, the intrinsic connection between expectation and fulfillment becomes the proof that it is really God who is acting here and that Jesus is the Savior of the world sent by God. This perspective requires, first of all, that Matthew produce the childhood history of the figure of Saint Joseph, in order to show that Jesus is the Son of David, the promised heir who establishes the Davidic dynasty in perpetuity and transforms it into God’s kingship over the world. The family tree is presented as a Davidic genealogy leading up to Joseph. In the dream, the angel addresses Joseph who gives Jesus his name: “The adoption is solemnized in the bestowal of the name.”
Note: Mary for years proclaimed the lie that Joseph was the father of Jesus Christ.
His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast. When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.” And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” But they did not understand the statement which He spoke to them. Luke 2:41-50.
Note: Jesus Christ knew that Joseph was not his father and proclaimed the truth to Mary.

Pages 85-86: Precisely because Matthew wants to show the intrinsic connection between promise and fulfillment, he places the Virgin Mary alongside the figure of Joseph. The promise that God had made through the prophet Isaiah to the doubting King Ahaz, who refused to ask God for a sign even as the advancing armies of his foes were pressing on him, was still in suspension, its sense closed to any comprehension. “The Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel (God with us)” (Is 7:14). It is impossible to say what this sign might have meant at the historical moment of King Ahaz – whether it was given or in what it consisted. The promise reached far beyond that hour. It continued to shine above the history of Israel as a star of hope pointing into an as yet unknown future. For Matthew, the veil has been lifted with the birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary: the sign has now been granted. The Virgin who as a virgin gives birth by the power of the Holy Spirit – she is the sign. Moreover, alongside this second line of the promise there is a new name that first gives the name Jesus its full significance and its depth. The application of the name Emmanuel, derived from the promise in Isaiah, to the child likewise broadens the scope of the Davidic promise. The kingdom of this child has a much vaster reach than could be expected from the Davidic promise: his kingdom is the kingdom of God himself; it participates in the universality of God’s lordship, for in him God himself has entered into the history of the world.
Note: God has always been a part of human history.
Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, “Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, “Tell me Your name, I pray.” And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. Genesis 32:24-29.
Note: Do you want to be blessed by God? Sincerely, call on the name of Jesus Christ.

Pages 86-87: However, not until the final verses of his Gospel does Matthew take up again the announcement that figures in this way in his account of Jesus’ conception and birth. During his earthly life, Jesus knows that he is strictly limited to the House of Israel and that he has not yet been sent to the peoples of the world. However, after his death on the Cross, Jesus says in the voice of the Risen One: “Make disciples of all nations … behold, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). In this passage, Jesus now reveals himself as the God-with-us whose new kingdom embraces all nations in its span, because there is but one God for all. Correspondingly, Matthew, in his account of Jesus’ conception, makes one alteration to the words of Isaiah. He does not repeat the phrase “she (the virgin) shall call his name Emmanuel.” Instead, he says “they shall call his name Emmanuel (which means, God with us).” This “they” is an allusion to the future communion of believers, the Church, which shall call Jesus by this name. Matthew’s narrative is wholly focused on Christ, because it is wholly focused on God. It is in this sense that the Creed has (rightly) understood it and handed it on to the Church. But because God is now with us, the human bearers of the promise, Joseph and Mary, are also of essential importance. Joseph stands for God’s fidelity to his promise to Israel, whereas Mary embodies the hope of humanity. Jospeh is the legal father, but Mary is the mother by virtue of her body: that God has really become one of depends on her.
Note: The Incarnation of God did not require Mary’s obedience.
But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. Matthew 3:7-9.
Note: God will never be dependent upon human beings for His will to be done.

Pages 87-88: b. Luke 1:26-38. Let us now look briefly at Luke’s account of the conception and birth of Jesus. Our purpose here is not to interpret this extremely rich text for its own sake; rather, it is only to grasp its particular contribution to the Creed. I shall restrict my remarks to the periscope of the Annunciation of Jesus’ birth by the Archangel Gabriel (Lk 1:26-38). Luke allows the Trinitarian mystery to shine through the angel’s words and thus gives the event that theological center to which all sacred history, including the narrative of the Creed, refers. The Child to be born will be called the Son of God, the Son of the Most High. Moreover, the Holy Spirit, personally embodying the power of the Most High, will mysteriously effect his conception. The Gospel thus speaks of the Son and, indirectly, of the Father and the Holy Spirit. In this passage, Luke uses the word “overshadow” (v. 35) to describe the Holy Spirit’s “coming upon” Mary. He thereby alludes to the Old Testament accounts of the holy cloud that, positioned about the Tent of Meeting, indicated God’s indwelling. Mary is thus characterized as the new holy Tent, the living Ark of the Covenant. Her Yes becomes the meeting place in which God obtains a dwelling in the world. God, who does not dwell in buildings of stone, dwells in this Yes given with body and soul; he whom the world cannot encompass can come to dwell wholly in a human being. Luke repeatedly brings this motif of the new Temple, the true Ark of the Covenant, into play. This is particularly true in the angel’s greeting to Mary, “rejoice, full of grace.” Today hardly anyone disputes that these words of the angel recorded for us by Luke take up the substance of the promise to daughter Zion in Zephaniah 3:14 that announces to her that God dwells in her midst.
Note: Zephaniah 3:12-20 is a prophecy about God being in the midst of His people (plural).
I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; For they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid.” Sing, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your judgments, He has cast out your enemy. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; You shall see disaster no more. In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Do not fear; Zion, let not your hands be weak. The Lord your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” “I will gather those who sorrow over the appointed assembly, who are among you, to whom its reproach is a burden. Behold, at that time I will deal with all who afflict you; I will save the lame, and gather those who were driven out; I will appoint them for praise and fame in every land where they were put to shame. At that time I will bring you back, even at the time I gather you; For I will give you fame and praise among all the peoples of the earth, when I return your captives before your eyes,” says the Lord. Zephaniah 3:12-20
Note: This prophecy in Zephaniah is about the restoration of His people (plural). (Revelation 21:1-5)

Page 88: Thus, Mary is shown by the angel’s greeting to be both daughter Zion in person and the place of God’s inhabitation, the holy tent, upon which the cloud of God’s presence rests. The Fathers seized upon this idea, which in turn had a decisive influence on ancient Christian iconography. Joseph is identified by the flowering staff as a high priest, as the prototype of the Christian bishop. For her part, Mary is the living Church. It is upon her that the Holy Spirit descends, thereby making her the new Temple. Joseph, the just man, is appointed to be the steward of the mysteries of God, the paterfamilias and guardian of the sanctuary, which is Mary the bride and the Logos in her. He thus becomes the icon of the bishop, to whom the bride is betrothed; she is not at his disposal but under his protection. Every detail here is directed toward the Trinitarian God, but, precisely for this reason, his being with us in history becomes particularly apparent and tangible in the mystery of Mary and the Church.
Note: Being the natural mother of Jesus Christ is meaningless to God.
While He was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told Him, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50.
Note: Mary was out of the will of God by trying to stop the ministry of Jesus Christ and take him home.

Pages 88-89: There is a further point in Luke’s Annunciation narrative that seems to me important for our question. God asks for man’s Yes. He does not simply employ his power to command. In creating man, God has created a free vis--vis, and he now needs the freedom of this creature for the realization of his kingdom, which is founded, not on external power, but on freedom. In one of his homilies, Bernard of Clairvaux has dramatically portrayed both God’s waiting and the waiting of humanity: The angel awaits your answer, for it is time to return to the one who sent him … O Lady, give the answer that earth, that hell, that heaven itself awaits. The King and Lord of all now yearns for your consenting answer as much as he once desired your beauty … Why are you hesitating? Why are you fearful? … Look, the desire of the nations stands at the door and knocks. Oh, what if he should pass by while you hesitate? … Get up, make haste, open! … Get up by faith, make haste by devotion … open by consent!
Note: The convoluted doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church on Mary came out of the dark-ages of ignorance.
Bernard of Clairvaux received milk from the breast of the Virgin Mary that allegedly took place at Speyer Cathedral in 1146. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.
Note: God will never be dependent upon human beings for His will to be done.

Pages 89-90: Without this free consent on Mary’s part, God cannot become man. To be sure, Mary’s Yes is wholly grace. The dogma of Mary’s freedom from original sin is at bottom meant solely to show that it is not a human being who sets the redemption in motion by her own power; rather, her Yes is contained wholly within the primacy and priority of divine love, which already embraces her before she is born. “All is grace.” Yet grace does not cancel freedom; it creates it. The entire mystery of redemption is present in this narrative and becomes concentrated in the figure of the Virgin Mary: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).
Note: Why does the Roman Catholic Church promote the heresy of Mary being free of original sin?
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” Luke 1:46-47.
Note: Mary was a sinner who needed a Savior to be saved by grace.

Page 90: c. The Prologue of John’s Gospel. Let us now turn to the prologue of John’s Gospel, upon whose language the Creed draws. Here, too, I would like merely to outline three ideas. “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” The Logos becomes flesh: we have grown so accustomed to these words that God’s colossal synthesis of seemingly unbridgeable divisions, which required a gradual intellectual penetration on the part of the Fathers, no longer strikes us as very astonishing. Here lay, and still lies, the specifically Christian novelty that appeared unreasonable and unthinkable to the Greek mind. What this passage says does not derive from a particular culture, such as the Semitic or the Greek, as is thoughtlessly asserted over and over again today. This statement is opposed to all the forms of culture known to us. It was just as unthinkable for the Jews as it was (although for altogether different reasons) for the Greeks or the Indians or even, for that matter, for the modern mind, which looks upon a synthesis of the phenomenal and the noumenal world as completely unreal and contests it with all the self-awareness of modern rationality. What is said here is “new” because it comes from God and could be brought about only by God himself. It is something altogether new and foreign to every history and to all cultures; we can enter it in faith and only in faith, and when we do so, it opens up to us wholly new horizons of thought and life.
Note: The Jews including the family of Jesus Christ did not receive Him as the Messiah.
He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:10-13.
Note: Have you been born of God through faith in Jesus Christ?

Page 91: But in this passage John has a further, quite particular accent in mind. The statement that the Logos becomes sarx (flesh) foreshadows the sixth chapter of the Gospel, which is entirely an unfolding of this half verse. There Christ says to the Jews and to the world: “The bread which I shall give (that is, the Logos, who is man’s true food) for the life of the world is my flesh” (Jn 6:51). The word “flesh” already tells us about Jesus’ consecration as a sacrifice, about the mystery of the Cross, and about the mystery of the Easter sacrament that flows from it. The Word does not simply become flesh in some indeterminate way for the sake of acquiring a new state of being. Implicit in his enfleshment is the dynamic of sacrifice. We have another (veiled) reference to the words of the psalm: “A body have you prepared for me” (Heb 10:5; Ps 40).
Note: Now that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has occurred the flesh profits nothing.
When Jesus knew in Himself that His disciples complained about this, He said to them, “Does this offend you? What then if you should see the Son of Man ascend where He was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you who do not believe.” John 6:61-64.
Note: Will you believe Jesus Christ or dark-age Roman Catholic Church dogma?

Page 91: This brief sentence thus contains the entire Gospel; we are reminded of the expression of the Fathers according to which the Logos contracted and became small. This is true in two ways. First, the infinite Logos became small in the sense of becoming a child. But the immeasurable Word, the whole fullness of Sacred Scripture, is also concentrated in this one sentence, in which the law and the prophets are gathered together. Being and history, worship and ethics are united and present without abridgment in this Christological center.
Note: Now that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ has occurred the flesh profits nothing.
But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified. But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Hebrews 10:12-18.
Note: Will you believe Scripture in context or dark-age Roman Catholic Church dogma?

Pages 91-92: The second observation I would like to make can be kept short. John speaks of God’s habitation as the consequence and goal of the Incarnation. He uses the word “tent” to express this idea and, thus, points back to the Tent of Meeting in the Old Testament, hence, to the theology of the Temple that is fulfilled in the Logos made flesh. But in the Greek word for tent – skene – we also hear a resonance of the Hebrew word Shekinah. This was the early Jewish designation for the holy cloud; it subsequently became a name for God himself, announcing “the gracious presence of God to the Jews gathered to pray and study the law”. Jesus is the true Shekinah through which God is among us whenever we are gathered in his name.
Note: Christians will know that Jesus Christ is always with them via the Holy Spirit.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6.
Note: Have you become disqualified through the belief that salvation requires Mary?

Page 92: Finally, we must look briefly at verse 13. He – the Logos – has given the power to become children of God to all who welcomed him, “to all who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Note: Saint Paul took the usual plural approach to Scriptural interpretation and usage.
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. Galatians 3:26.
Note: Do you believe that you are a child of God through faith in Jesus Christ?

Pages 92-93: There are two diverse traditions among the textual witnesses, and it is no longer possible today to decide which is the original reading. Both seem for all intents and purposes equally primitive and equally weighty. Specifically, there is a version in the singular: “who was born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God”. Alongside this is the usual version in the plural: “who were born … of God”. It is understandable that there are two textual traditions, because in either case the verse refers to both subjects. For this reason, we must always read the two traditions in tandem, because only together do they bring out the whole meaning of the text. If we go by the usual version in the plural, the text is speaking of the baptized, who have been given new birth from God by the Logos.
Note: Christians believe in the death of Jesus Christ for salvation not baptism.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.
Note: Salvation is only through faith in Jesus Christ not baptism.

Page 93: But the mystery of Jesus’ virginal birth, which is the origin of our birth from God, comes through so clearly in the text that only prejudice can deny the reference to it. At the same time, even if we regard the singular as the original version, the reference to “all who received him” is still evident. Clearly, then, the point of Jesus’ conception “of God”, of his new birth, is to “welcome” us, to give us new birth. Just as verse 14, which speaks of the Incarnation of the Logos, points ahead to chapter 6 on the Eucharist, this verse unmistakably anticipates the colloquy with Nicodemus in chapter 3. Christ says to Nicodemus that fleshly birth is not sufficient to enter the kingdom of God. New birth from above is needed, rebirth of water and the spirit (Jn 3:5).
Note: You must be first-born to be born again of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. John 3:3-6.
Note: John chapter 3 has nothing to do with baptism.

Page 93: Christ, who through the power of the Holy Spirit was conceived by the Virgin Mary, is the beginning of a new humanity, of a new mode of existence. To become a Christian means to be brought into this new beginning. Becoming a Christian is more than turning to new ideas, a new ethos, or a new community. The transformation that occurs here has the radical character of a real birth, of a new creation. But this means that the Virgin Mother is, once again, at the center of the event of redemption. With her whole being she guarantees the new thing God has done. Only if her story is true and stands at the beginning are Paul’s words true: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17).
Note: The Roman Catholic Church as twisted Paul’s word to support their dark-age Mariology dogma.
But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:4-7.
Note: Only God (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) is at the center of redemption as Savior.