Tuesday 22nd July 2014

Home » Our Catholic Faith » Currently Reading:

Mary’s Perpetual Virginity . . . Was The Firstborn Son Followed By A Second-Born Son?

April 27, 2014 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM

Part 4

“And he [Joseph] did not know her till she brought forth her firstborn son. And he called his name Jesus” — Matt. 1:25.
In the previous article we have seen how the words till and until do not carry the strict meaning given to them by anti-Catholic writers. The Jerusalem Bible gives us the correct meaning of the passage: “Although he had no intercourse with her, she gave birth to her firstborn son.”
In this article we shall examine the words “firstborn son,” since some have suggested that, since Jesus was the firstborn, there must have been at least a second born, if not a third and fourth, since most synagogue-going Jews of those days did not practice contraception, unlike many churchgoing Catholics and Protestants today.
The first thing to observe — again — is that St. Matthew did not write his Gospel in American English, with all the cultural connotations of the language spoken today in the United States. No, he wrote it in Aramaic, and had it translated into Greek shortly thereafter, as scholars tell us. Therefore, he wrote in the cultural context of his time and country, which was quite different from Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Alabama.
We find the words “firstborn” in Exodus 13:2 — “Consecrate to me every firstborn that opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast, for it belongs to me.”
Notice in the first place that not only the human firstborn ones were to be consecrated to God, but those born of animals as well. Why so?
God Himself explains it, in same chapter, vv.12-15: “You shall dedicate to the Lord every son that opens the womb and all the male firstlings of your animals shall belong to the Lord. . . . Every firstborn son you must redeem. If your son should ask you later on, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall tell him, ‘With a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, that place of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, every firstborn of man and of beast. That is why I sacrifice to the Lord everything of the male sex that opens the womb, and why I redeem every firstborn of my sons.”
God did not spare the firstborn of the Egyptians, not even the firstborn of their animals. Any Hebrews, who did not celebrate the Passover in Egypt, also lost their firstborn children. Subsequently, the firstborn had to be consecrated to God shortly after being born, usually 40 days (seven days for the purification of the mother and 33 days for the child to be presented equal 40 days).
But notice a most important detail added by God: Only the firstborn of the male sex had to be consecrated. If your firstborn child was a girl, you did not have to consecrate her. Wait until you have a boy, and he will be your firstborn male. Firstborn is a legal title, not the first of a series!
“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7). Then we see why St. Luke refers to the Baby Jesus as the firstborn son immediately after His birth, without waiting to call Him such only after a second child was born.
The boy’s circumcision took place the day after the Mother’s seventh day of purification. Thirty-three days later, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the Temple to be presented and consecrated “According to the Law of Moses” (Luke 2:22). They consecrated their firstborn because it was a boy — no need to wait for a second child to be born to consecrate the one born first.
Yes, that was the way God wanted it. His firstborn and only Son, Jesus Christ, was a male child consecrated to Him to redeem the people.
Thus it becomes evident to all whose eyes are not closed to evidence that in the Hebrew culture of the time, the firstborn was a legal title, applicable to the firstborn boy only, not just a number to identify the first child of a couple.
Again, the firstborn would receive the double portion of the father’s inheritance. For instance, as a father of seven children realized his approaching death, he would not divide his inheritance into seven portions, but in eight portions, giving a double portion to the firstborn and one portion to each of the other six children. The firstborn was the Prototokos — legal term, heir, he who receives the double portion. That’s the Hebrew culture of the time. We may disagree with it today, but our disagreement does not change the facts.
The firstborn was a legal title, which granted special privileges and responsibilities. St. Paul himself refers to Jesus as “the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29). We are His brethren, and in this sense the Blessed Virgin Mary had millions of children!

The Eastern Gate
Of God’s Temple

Mary’s perpetual virginity was foreseen in the Old Testament in several ways, especially in the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of God’s Temple, in which the East Gate was reserved for the Lord God of Israel: “This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it; because the Lord God of Israel has entered in through it, and it shall be shut” (Ezek. 44:1).
How did the early Christians understand this symbol?
The great doctor of the Early Church, St. Augustine of Hippo, who died over one thousand years before Protestantism was even a thought, taught: “It is written (Ezek. 44:2): ‘This gate shall be shut, it shall not be opened, and no man shall pass through it. Because the Lord God of Israel has entered in by it. . . .’
“What does this closed gate in the House of the Lord mean, except that Mary is to be ever inviolate? What does it mean that ‘no man shall pass through it,’ save that Joseph shall not know her? And what is this, ‘The Lord alone enters in and goes out by it,’ except that the Holy Ghost shall impregnate Her, and that the Lord of Angels shall be born of Her? And what does this mean – ‘It shall be shut forevermore,’ but that Mary is a Virgin before His birth, a Virgin in His birth, and a Virgin after His birth” (De Annunt. Dom. I, ii). This is the Faith of the Early Christians.
St. Athanasius, the great defender of the divinity of Jesus Christ against the Aryan heresy, places the denial of the divinity of Christ side by side with the denial of Mary’s perpetual virginity: “Let those, therefore, who deny that the Son is by nature from the Father and proper to His essence, deny also that He took true human flesh from the Ever-virgin Mary” (discourse against the Arians, between AD 358-362).
A quote by way of conclusion: “Our Lord Jesus Christ is called the firstborn. This is not because there was a second or a third, but because the Gospel writer is paying regard to the precedence. Scripture speaks thus of naming the firstborn whether or not there is any question of the second.”
Who wrote this? Again, no Early Father, no medieval Pope, no contemporary lay apologist — but John Calvin, the founder of the Presbyterian religion (Calvini Opera, Corpus Reformatorum, Braunschweig-Berlin, 1863-1900, Sermon on Matthew, 1:22-25, published in 1562).
Here we fully agree with John Calvin!
Next article: Mary, the Virgin Ark of the New Covenant.

+    +    +

(Raymond de Souza is director of the Evangelization and Apologetics Office of the Winona Diocese, Minn.; EWTN program host; regional coordinator for Portuguese-speaking countries for Human Life International [HLI], president of the Sacred Heart Institute and a member of the Sovereign, Military, and Hospitaller Order of the Knights of Malta. His web site is: www.RaymondeSouza.com.)

Share Button

Comment on this Article:

Dallas-Fort Worth Catholic leaders appeal for legal help in border crisis

Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell (center) and Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson on Monday asked for volunteers to assist with a “humanitarian crisis.” By DIANNE SOLÍS Staff Writer dsolís@dallasnews.com Published: 21 July 2014 10:32 PM Updated: 22 July 2014 12:21 AM Dallas Catholic…Continue Reading

Iraq Catholic leader says Islamic State worse than Genghis Khan

By Dominic Evans and Raheem Salman BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The head of Iraq’s largest church said on Sunday that Islamic State militants who drove Christians out of Mosul were worse than Mongol leader Genghis Khan and his grandson Hulagu who…Continue Reading

CHRISTIAN HOLOCAUST UNDERWAY IN IRAQ, USA AND WORLD LOOK ON

When U.S. troops invaded Iraq in 2003, there were at least 1.5 million Christians in Iraq. Over the last ten years, significantly in the last few months with the emergence of ISIS, that figure has dropped to about 400,000. In a…Continue Reading

Vancouver Catholic Schools Adopt Transgender Policy

James Keller, The Canadian Press Published Wednesday, July 16, 2014 7:20PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, July 17, 2014 7:24AM EDT VANCOUVER — Catholic schools in Vancouver have adopted a policy that could allow transgender students to use the pronouns, uniforms…Continue Reading

New Catholic Bishops Say Civil Disobedience OK If For Common Good

Newly appointed auxiliary bishops, two Catholic clergymen suggest Occupy Central could be just, while third weighs in on reform report St Two auxiliary bishops newly appointed by the Vatican have spoken out about the Occupy Central campaign, saying the church supports…Continue Reading

Skeptics And The Claims Of The Catholic Church Seventeen Reasons Scoffers Ought To Rethink Catholicism, If They Really Thought About It

July 11, 2014 05:09 EST By Thomas M. Doran In today’s world, isn’t it crazy to appeal to scoffers to consider Catholicism? Why would a rational modern man or woman in the 21st century be attracted to what the world and…Continue Reading

The Obama Administration’s Border-Crisis Plan B: Use the Catholic Church

The federal government reaches out to a California diocese to help shelter illegal immigrants in California. By Ryan Lovelace In order to avoid future clashes with the citizens of Murrieta, Calif., over attempts to transfer illegal immigrants there, the Obama administration has turned to…Continue Reading

A New Low For Liberals: Attacking Catholic Nuns Over Hobby Lobby

I’m a big fan of absurdity in politics. But even absurdity has its limits, and the National Organization for Women has surpassed it in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision inBurwell v. Hobby Lobby. As part of its full-throated…Continue Reading

Louisiana court’s ruling that Catholic priest testify about confession criticized by Baton Rouge Diocese:

The Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has issued a statement decrying a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court that could compel a local priest to testify in court about confessions he might have received. The alleged confessions, according to legal documents, were made to…Continue Reading

Out Of Nowhere A Network Emerged To Save Catholic Schools

By Martha Woodall, Inquirer Staff Writer POSTED: June 24, 2014   The fledgling Independence Mission Schools network of Catholic elementary schools is used to moving fast. It sprang into action two years ago to save 14 parish schools in low-income neighborhoods…Continue Reading

New Irish Guidelines Allow Abortion Up To Birth: Pro-life Group

irishlife

DUBLIN — New guidelines on abortion set to be issued by Ireland’s Department of Health seem to be silent on the reality of what Fine Gael’s abortion legislation meant for mothers and babies, says the pro-life Life Institute. The Irish Times reported Thursday that…Continue Reading

79% Of Peruvians Support Catholic Church’s Strong Stand Against Abortion

LIMA, Peru — A new survey in Peru has revealed that the majority of the nation’s citizens support the Catholic Church’s position on abortion (79 percent) and homosexual civil unions (60 percent). The study, conducted by the Peruvian Company of Studies…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our new website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for over 145 years in our weekly print edition. Now we are introducing the online daily version of our print journal.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to subscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 145 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.

 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

'From our friends at The Foundry'


Pope Francis . . .

Pope Francis Marks Day For Life In UK, Ireland With Call To Cherish Life

pope410

2014-07-22 Vatican Radio (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis is marking the upcoming Day for Life in the UK and Ireland with a call to all people of good will to cherish life, particularly the life of society’s most vulnerable. In a message sent to the Church in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, signed by the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro…Continue Reading

Chilling

By ANDREW P. NAPOLITANO “Chilling” is the word lawyers use to describe governmental behavior that does not directly interfere with constitutionally protected freedoms, but rather tends to deter folks from exercising them. Classic examples of “chilling” occurred in the 1970s, when FBI agents and U.S. Army soldiers, in business suits with badges displayed or in…Continue Reading

Do They Think We’re Stupid?. . . It’s Worse Than That

By JAMES K. FITZPATRICK It has become routine to hear conservative talk radio hosts, such as Mark Levin and Rush Limbaugh, as well as many commentators on Fox News, react to public comments by the Obama administration and its supporters with an exasperated, “Do they think we’re stupid?” I have in mind Obama supporters’ contentions…Continue Reading

Facing The Truth About Abortion

By REY FLORES “America will not reject abortion, until America sees abortion” — Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life. +    +    + One thing I have often said about abortion is that you cannot sugarcoat it no matter how hard you try. It is a monstrous and criminal act against the most defenseless of human…Continue Reading

Following Proper Requirements

By DEXTER DUGGAN It was the beginning of July, and new waves of unauthorized immigration were in the news. For his Fourth of July homily, a priest at a large Southwestern U.S. church soft-spokenly noted the Catholic Church’s foundational moral stands and its view of politics. The Church favors limited government, he said, but there’s…Continue Reading

Libreria Editrice Vaticana . . . Presents Volume On Knights Of Columbus Founder

By ALBERTO CAROSA VATICAN CITY — A book about the founder of the world’s largest Catholic fraternity, the Knights of Columbus, has been published in Italian by Libreria Editrice Vaticana (LEV), and was presented June 25 at the Augustinian Patristic Institute, just across St. Peter’s Square in Rome. It is entitled Il Parroco: Padre Michael…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World . . . Journalists, Atheists, And The Pope

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK The bureaucratic apologists are now in full scramble mode once again to interpret the Pope’s words as filtered to the whole world through the atheist journalist Eugenio Scalfari and printed in the paper he co-founded, La Repubblica. Yet again, we are informed, the Pope did not say what we are told he said. The fact…Continue Reading

Is The Rosary A Prayer Of “Vain Repetitions”?

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 3 The visit I received from two Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs, for short) gave me the opportunity to demonstrate that repetitive prayer — especially the rosary — is entirely in line with Sacred Scripture. When they walked into my living room and did not miss the sight of my rosary on the mantelpiece, I knew…Continue Reading

The Obedience Of Faith

By DON FIER For the past ten weeks of this series, we’ve been unpacking the teaching of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on how God comes to meet man through His divine Revelation. As the Catechism, citing Dei Verbum (DV), so beautifully expresses it, “the invisible God, from the fullness of His love, addresses men as His friends,…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. It has been a while since it was decided to permit openly homosexual boys into the Boy Scouts, but not a word for an official position on Catholic-affiliated troops. I wonder why? In the meantime, I fear many boys will be in great danger. Why no statement from our bishops on this very critical issue? — R.B.K., Virginia. A. In…Continue Reading

The Pearl Of Great Price

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Seventeenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR A) Readings: 1 Kings 3:5, 7-12 Romans 8:28-30 Matt. 13:44-52 In the Gospel reading today our Lord speaks about the buried treasure, the pearl of great price, and the net thrown into the sea which collects a variety of things which will be gathered into buckets, separated into good and…Continue Reading

Cast A Gauntlet – Sola Scriptura: Part 1

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Alphonsus Liguori

By CAROLE BRESLIN Part 1 Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, having read the works of St. Alphonsus Liguori, took him as a mentor. It is not surprising, then, that Fr. Hardon taught his students, “If you are not encountering the cross, you are not doing God’s work.” Such were the lives of saints such as St. Teresa of Avila, St.…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Benedict

By CAROLE BRESLIN Every month the Apostleship of Prayer publishes the intentions of the Holy Father: one for a universal intention and one for an evangelical intention. In June 2014, the evangelical intention was that Europe may rediscover its Christian roots through the witness of believers. The advent of Christian civilization coincided with the advent of Western civilization. The Benedictine…Continue Reading

What to Do If Your Boyfriend Wants You to Get an Abortion?

by Krisi Burton Brown | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/20/14 4:00 PM Washington, DC (LiveActionNews) — Note: This article is for any girl or woman who is feeling pressured into having an abortion. If you are a guy who is trying to find out how to stop an abortion, please see this article written for dads. 1.  Stand your…Continue Reading

It’s Time to Build Schools, from the Ground Up

February 13, 2014 by Anthony Esolen   It might have been worth repairing, if it had once been noble and beautiful, or at least conceived in an orderly way, for ordinary human purposes. But it wasn’t. It was constructed upon false principles. Its walls looked like those of a bad factory. It smelled like a warehouse. It could be terribly…Continue Reading

Why I am Pro-Life

February 4, 2014   Pro-Lifers   By Therese Recinella   Editor’s note. This tribute was posted on Therese Recinella’s Facebook account. She is graciously allowing us to reprint it in NRL News Today.   There are many things that I could say about my Dad, but what I want people to know is this: My parents faithfully raised 8 children…Continue Reading

Fathers . . . The Essential Role of the Father

Posted on February 10, 2014 by The Catholic Gentleman 13 Comments   Divorce rates skyrocketing; adultery rampant; non-married cohabitating couples; children abandoned by their fathers or mothers; “same-sex unions” adopting children and calling this the “modern family”; pornography invading homes, leading to powerful addictions and total alienation from other members of the family: all of this is a bird’s eye view…Continue Reading

How Much is One Billion Dollars?

This article appeared in the March 20, 1941 issue of The Wanderer. (Well, 70 years later we can add 15 trillion into the example.) Here’s a simple and homely illustration of what one billion dollars amounts to: Suppose we take an imaginary boy, aged 15 years, and assign to him the task of counting one billion dollars in one-dollar bills.…Continue Reading

Planned Parenthood

This article appeared in The Wanderer, April 3, 1941.  (WOW, Look what we have 70 years later.) A group which calls itself the National Committee for Planned Parenthood has begun a nationwide campaign to have the promotion of birth control included in State and national health programs. The committee—which, according to propaganda sheets reaching our desk has a branch in…Continue Reading

Questions of Non-Catholics . . . Answered by Father Richard Felix, O.S.B.

Reprinted from The Wanderer April 10, 1941 Why Does God allow us to be tempted? God allows us to be tempted so that we may prove our attachment to him and merit a higher place in heaven. Temptations are the lot of all men; they are the battle ground upon which heaven is won or lost. “The kingdom of heaven…Continue Reading