On June 1, 2019, the city of Amsterdam was the place of an international meeting of “Prayer for Peace through the Advocacy of Mary, Mother of all Peoples.” For Protestant Christians, it can be difficult to understand Catholic devotion to Mary. In an interview for Mother of All Peoples, we asked the Bishop of Amsterdam, Bishop Jozef Maria Punt to explain the Church’s devotion to Mary.
First of all, Bishop, can you make clear who Mary is within a Catholic understanding?
As Catholics and Protestants together, we honor Mary as the Mother of Christ. All her dignity, all her greatness, comes from him, and from him alone. We agree on that. To fully understand who she is, therefore, we must first take a closer look at him.
He is the Son of the Father, “the Son of the Most High”, as the Archangel called him during the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary. She was called to become his mother, an election of dizzying proportions. “From now on, all generations will call me blessed,” Mary rejoiced in her song of praise. Therefore, first we must correctly understand how unjust and unworthy it would be to look at Mary as a kind of “surrogate mother,” a woman the Father needed so that his Son could be born, and after that she could just go. That’s even undignified behavior for men, not to mention for God. If we really believe that Jesus Christ is the true Son of God, as both Catholics and Protestants do, we must acknowledge that there is a unique relationship between the Triune God and this young woman, a relationship that lasts forever. That’s why Catholics call her: ‘Daughter of the Father, Mother of the Son, Bride of the Holy Spirit.”
How do you explain that in the Bible, Jesus refers to his mother just “Woman”?
Indeed, at central scenes, like Cana and Golgotha, the Lord calls his Mother: ‘Woman’. This is often misunderstood, as if he wanted to take some distance from her, and even a kind of disrespect. The opposite is true. “Woman” was a name of honor in the original Paradise. In Genesis, it was Adam and “the woman.” The name “Eve’”only came after the Fall: Eve, who once was “the Woman”, but who also lost this dignity. ….