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Joshua Heizer wrote:

Hi, guys —

I am 23-year-old man who lives in the United States who is getting married in three days.
I was raised in the Methodist church but now attend a non-denominational church.

I was just wondering about the verse in Matthew 23:8-12 where Jesus says not to call anyone Father or Rabbi, because there is only one Master.

Also Luke 11:27-28 says:

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." 28 He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

  • Why do Catholics feel the need to pray to Mary when Jesus tells us to pray through Him alone?

I'm not trying to be rude. I just don't see how several of your beliefs add up with these two Scripture passages.

Thanks for your time and for any answers you can provide.


  { Why pray to Mary and how do I reconcile your teachings with Matthew 23:8-12 and Luke 11:27-28? }

Eric replied:

Hi Joshua,

Thanks for your question.

We have already answer your question on the site. Check out:

Hope this helps; let us know if you have any follow up questions.

Eric Ewanco

Bob replied:


Congratulations on your marriage.

I wish you many blessings and that God will truly provide you with a holy and powerful union.

Regarding your questions. I know you are busy with nuptial affairs, but when you have a moment, please check these thoughts out.

You said:
I was just wondering about the verse in Matthew 23:8-12 where Jesus says not to call anyone Father or Rabbi, because there is only one Master.

With respect to Jesus admonition to call no man "father, teacher or master" we must determine what His context and intent is.

If He meant it literally, we should call no man father in any sense, biological or adopted children could not refer to their male parent as father, nor could we address Doctors (which means teacher) as such. However, against this, even Jesus himself makes such references of human being and their parents, i.e., Mark 10:29, Matthew 19:29. Furthermore, there is a commandment which demands that we bring honor to our Father and Mother. (Matthew 15:4) In addition, history bears out that this interpretation has seldom been accepted and not without a very subjective partial adherence. A completely literal interpretation is not accepted anywhere.

For that reason, He must mean it in a non-literal sense.

  • A symbolic or spiritual sense may be implied, but to what extent and in what circumstance?
  • Does Jesus mean to suggest that no man should be considered a spiritual father in any case?

Against this, Paul himself would be violating such an admonition. He calls himself father
(1 Corinthian 4:15), a far more arrogant use of the word than by another, with respect to Onesimus (Philemon 1:9-10), and teacher, 2 Timothy 2:11 and implies it with Timothy and Titus, a true child in the faith (cf. 1 Timothy 1:1). So being a symbolic or spiritual Father or Teacher is not inconsistent with Scripture and Tradition. Paul would be leading us contrary to Jesus' Words if that was the case.

  • What then may be the context and intent that Jesus implies?

There was, in Jesus' time as in our own, a tendency to identify a particular individual as an enlightened one, one who was capable by his own power of showing the way to salvation — a guru in short. In Acts 16, Paul rebukes a woman who had proclaimed they had a way of salvation; as if there were several ways. Jesus is the only way, and Paul and all Apostles who followed Him authentically knew this and wouldn't tolerate being lauded as an enlightened leader. This is the kind of arrogance Jesus rebukes, and the false discipleship that goes with it. Sadly, there will always be the charlatans that seek to dupe people into following their way. These counterfeits propose to be a sort of God on earth with their own recipe for salvation. Essentially, our understanding of Jesus' admonition is against those that claim and follow a way contrary to the true way in Christ Himself.

Finally, Catholics use the word father as a title in recognition of the important role that God the true Father has given to his Apostles and their assistants. We consider the Church the family of God, and the titles are fittingly given — for a father helps raise the children to their own full stature. This is how Paul, and I'm sure the other Apostles, viewed their role beyond being mere instructors. A close reading of Paul in his epistles will reveal this attitude sharply.

You said:
Also Luke 11:27-28 says:

27 As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you." 28 He replied, "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."

  • Why do Catholics feel the need to pray to Mary when Jesus tells us to pray through Him alone?

Jesus is merely pointing out the obvious, Mary isn't blessed because she had breasts and suckled Jesus but because she heard the word of God and obey it. Remember Elizabeth's words:

blessed is she who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

(Luke 1:45)

We honor Mary because Jesus gave her to us as a gift (cf. John 19:26-27) We believe the beloved disciple represents each of us, not merely John, who is unnamed — a theme throughout this Gospel. We pray to saints only in as much as we consider them part of the family of God and seek their prayers for us — they have no power on their own. They are only powerful intercessors, as any holy person is.

While Protestants often object on the grounds that we are to have no contact with the dead,
we say they are alive in Christ.

  • And what are we to make of Jesus' interactions with Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration?
  • Did He have illicit contact with the dead?

We are a family, and while, unlike Jesus, we can't see with our eyes those who spur us on to Holiness, we believe we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1) that bid our good blessing in this race to the finish line and intercede for a hastening of our redemption.(Revelation 6:9-11)

I realize my answer has gone on for longer than I intended, but it hardly scratches the surface of the last subject of your question. I hope you will continue to read the Scriptures and consult history for the fullest understanding of the gift which has been handed down to us.


Bob Kirby

Joshua replied:

Thanks Bob,

I appreciate your answer. I do wonder about this section of one of your answers from this posting.

Mary helps us get to Jesus so Jesus can get us to Heaven. Just as you work to bring people to Jesus so that they may be reconciled to Jesus, and hence saved — an act called mediation — we believe that Mary works to bring people to Jesus so that they may be saved. We even ask Mary to help us get to Jesus so that we might be saved.

I understand that this is what you believe, but I really see no reason why you believe it.

  • Where in the Bible does it say that Mary can help us get to Jesus?


Eric replied:

Hi Joshua,

Anyone, except those in Hell, can help us get to Jesus, whether it's by:

  • praying for us
  • witnessing to us, or
  • even serving as a counterexample.

I suppose the question behind your question is:

  • How can Mary, who is in Heaven, help us get to Heaven according to the Scriptures?

To that I would answer, on account of her prayers. This is part of a doctrine known as the Communion of Saints, which is a very ancient one (It appears in the Apostle's Creed and is testified to in the catacombs of Rome.)

First of all, the saints are present with us. You can see this in Hebrews chapter 12, verse 1 and verse 23.

Verse one, after listing a bunch of Old Testament saints, concludes saying

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses ...",

thus teaching that the saints surround us like a cloud, cheering us on as it were in the Christian life. Later on, Christian worship is described, and present at that worship are the spirits of just men made perfect — the saints in Heaven. Since they are present with us, it is reasonable to conclude that they can hear us. In fact, in Revelation 5:8, we see certain saints carrying our prayers to the throne room of God, proving again that they have a role in our prayers.

  • Now, do they actually pray for us?

This seems suggested by Jeremiah 15:1 where God's comment,

"Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people."

indicates that there is intercession going on the part of the saints. Note that Moses and Samuel's lives did not overlap with each other or with Jeremiah's by hundreds of years.

  • Therefore, we can conclude that the saints:
    • are around us
    • can hear us, and
    • pray for us
  • but what about Mary's role?

Consider Psalm 45, verses 9-17. First look at verse 17, which speaks of the queen:

"I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations; therefore the peoples will praise you for ever."

  • What does that evoke?

Mary's words in the Magnificat, "All generations will call me blessed." (Luke 1:48)

The Psalm refers to a king and a queen. The king is the Messiah; the queen is His Queen but Jewish kings crowned, not their wives (for they had many), but their mother's' queen.
(See 2 Kings 10:13, Jeremiah 13:18, 1 Kings 2:19). This is in agreement with Revelation 12,
which portrays the mother of the Messiah with a crown on her head in queenly splendor so,
Psalm 45
is, at least in one sense, about Mary. It says, Instead of your fathers shall be your sons, you will make them princes in all the earth. (Psalm 45:16) There is a type of intercession going on here where Mary can make her sons princes in all the earth.

  • If she can make them princes on earth, how much more can she also bring them to salvation through her son Jesus Christ?

That is in part the biblical basis for Mary being able to help us get to Jesus. She can pray for us, and through those prayers (the prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective, James 5:16) bring us to God.


Joshua replied:


I just got back from my honeymoon and finally got to read this.

I greatly appreciate the time both of you took to answer my questions. It has given me great insight.

Thanks again,


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