Monday 30th May 2016

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

2016 The Wanderer Printing Co.

34% of “Pro-Choice” Women Who See This Viral Video Turn Against Abortion

A new four-minute viral video is causing over a third — 34 percent — of “pro-choice” women surveyed to view abortion “less favorably.” And 28 percent of pro-choice women who watched the video stated there should be more restrictions on…Continue Reading

‘Biblically wrong’: Oklahoma lawmakers urge Obama’s impeachment over transgender bathrooms

Lawmakers in Oklahoma have introduced legislation calling for President Barack Obama to be impeached because of his administration’s support for transgender bathrooms. Another bill calls for a declaration of emergency in the state. In a measure called Senate Concurrent Resolution…Continue Reading

Oklahoma legislature passes bill making it a felony to perform abortions

Lawmakers in Oklahoma approved a bill Thursday that would make performing abortions a felony and revoke the medical licenses of most physicians who assist in such procedures. This sweeping measure, which opponents described as unconstitutional and unprecedented, now heads to…Continue Reading

Unanimous Win for Little Sisters of the Poor at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that the government cannot fine the Little Sisters of the Poor.  The Supreme Court vacated the lower court rulings against the Little Sisters, accepting the government’s admission that it could meet…Continue Reading

Conservatives outraged over Obama transgender directive to public schools

The Obama administration’s directive Friday that every public school provide transgender access — or face the loss of federal funds — drew swift and strong condemnation from conservatives, with one public official blasting it as presidential “blackmail.” The administration’s directive…Continue Reading

Pro-Life Leaders Decry Scandals, Urge Catholic Colleges to Reject Culture of Death

Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm…Continue Reading

ACLU launches campaign to strip Catholic hospitals of federal funds

NEW YORK, May 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Catholic hospitals across the U.S. are “withholding emergency care” and denying “essential health services,” the ACLU is alleging in a new campaign. They also inflict harm on “transgender and gender-non-conforming patients” “when seeking…Continue Reading

Harvard Law Professor Says Pro-Life Christians Should be Treated Like Nazis

Every day, it seems, the United States is becoming a more hostile environment for people with pro-life and conservative positions. Abortion activists constantly challenge pro-life laws, stall abortion industry investigations, force religious objectors to pay for abortions and attack life-affirming…Continue Reading

Obama plans new push for transgender rights in schools

The divisive and politically combustible issue of bathroom access for transgender individuals is about to become further inflamed, as the Obama administration is expected in coming weeks to aggressively reinforce its position that transgender student rights are fully protected under…Continue Reading

Cardinal Burke: Notre Dame is Wrong

Notre Dame’s Great Scandal: Honoring Vice President Biden By Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family: The University of Notre Dame has announced that they intend to confer the Laetare Medal, an honor given to Catholics “in…Continue Reading

DoJ to North Carolina: You Have Until Monday to Reverse Bathroom Bill

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory received a letter from the Department of Justice that gives him until Monday to reverse his state’s controversial bathroom bill, reports The Hill. The DoJ said the law is in violation of the federal Civil…Continue Reading

Lavender Graduations Harmful to Students at Catholic Colleges

At least eight Catholic colleges across the country are hosting “lavender graduations” this spring — many of them as part of an annual campus tradition — to celebrate and honor students with same-sex attraction (SSA) or who identify as lesbian,…Continue Reading

Newsmax

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 su
bscribe 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

Enter Comments Below

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .

Commentary

This Weeks Comments And Letters . . .      

Today . . .

">Ronald Reagan . . . Memorial Day Address

Planned Parenthood sponsors bill to make it illegal to record and post undercover footage

A bill making its way through the California State Assembly, sponsored by Planned Parenthood, seeks to make it a crime to publish conversations with certain health care providers, notably those associated with abortion facilities. California has already squashed the rights of pro-life pregnancy centers, demanding they offer abortion as an option to their clients, despite their pro-life mission. Now, Planned Parenthood and CA Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez think it’s a fine idea to prosecute someone from posting a “photo…Continue Reading

South Carolina governor signs ban on abortion for babies who feel pain

CHARLESTON, May 26, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – South Carolina has joined 13 other states that forbid abortions to be performed on unborn children capable of feeling pain. As expected, Governor Nikki Haley, a Republican, signed the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act on Wednesday. The law restricts abortion to the first 19 weeks of pregnancy. “South Carolina took a courageous stand to protect women’s health and safety in limiting abortion at a point at which the risks…Continue Reading

Pope Francis: Perseverance in prayer needed, but not “magic wand”

pope908

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday said “prayer is not a magic wand.” He was speaking during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter’s Square. The Pope was discussing the Parable of the Unjust Judge – also known as the Parable of the Persistent Widow – from the Gospel of Luke. In the parable, the persistence of a widow forces the unjust judge to grant her request for justice, “so that she will not eventually…Continue Reading

Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge

The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached. “I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which

Excluded From Arizona House . . . Racial Healing Meet Has To Find Another Location, Loses Audience

By DEXTER DUGGAN MESA, Ariz. — The chairman of an Arizona Tea Party group introduced a representative of Black Lives Matter Arizona at a racial-healing conference here, saying, “Black lives matter, and of course we agree that all lives matter,” but blacks are unique in U.S. history as “a people who have endured chattel slavery.”…Continue Reading

Havana: The Potemkin Village Of The 21st Century

By ALBERTO MARTINEZ PIEDRA According to the media, it is often heard that many Americans are interested in traveling to Cuba because, as relations between the jewel of the Caribbean and the United States warm, they “want to see the island before it changes.” And they make this statement with a certain degree of optimism.…Continue Reading

Rocky Homilies

By DEACON JAMES H. TONER (Editor’s Note: Deacon James H. Toner, Ph.D., serves at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Greensboro, N.C.) + + + The Holy Father’s admonition in Amoris Laetitia that priests must understand that the moral law should not be thrown at people as if it were so many stones (n.…Continue Reading

Restoring The Sacred… A Procession To The Ends Of The Earth

By JAMES MONTI Several weeks ago, after attending the Easter Vigil at a nearby seminary, and the emptied chapel had fallen silent, I began to hear the sound of the sacring bell being rung in the sacristy. Puzzled by this, I wondered whether the seminarians were perhaps trying to repair the bell. But then from…Continue Reading

Is Scarborough Shoal Worth A War?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN If China begins to reclaim and militarize Scarborough Shoal, says Philippines President Benigno S. Aquino III, America must fight. Should we back down, says Aquino, the United States will lose “its moral ascendancy, and also the confidence of one of its allies.” And what is Scarborough Shoal? A cluster of rocks…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

A Leaven In The World… Look To Our Father In Heaven

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK Everyone has made a wrong decision at some point in his or her life, and everyone can speak about the suffering or pain caused by bad decisions. What, on the other hand, about the suffering or pain that is caused by doing the right thing? How often can we say that we suffered personally and…Continue Reading

The Marvel Of The Catholic Church Miracles And The Saints

By RAYMOND DE SOUZA, KM Part 2 “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’.” “Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, cast out demons” (Matt. 10:7-8). It is evident that our Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples the power to perform miracles, and many of them did just that. Not…Continue Reading

The Church’s Liturgy — Who Celebrates?

By DON FIER There is an ancient Latin saying in the Church that eloquently expresses what her members believe of the efficacy of the sacraments and their relationship to faith: lex orandi, lex credendi (“the law of prayer is the law of faith”). Each of the seven sacraments, as we saw last week, can be classified in various categories. Yet…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Q. My husband and I are wondering when to say the “Amen” after the Lord’s prayer is prayed during Mass. I believe “Amen” should be said after we say “deliver us from evil.” — J.W., Georgia. A. Although it is correct to say “Amen” at the end of the Our Father while saying it outside of Mass, for example, while…Continue Reading

God’s Prophet

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Tenth Sunday In Ordinary Time (YR C) Readings: 1 Kings 17:17-24 Gal. 1:11-14a, 15a, c, 16a, 17, 19 Luke 7:11-17 In the first reading today we hear about the death of the son of a widow with whom the Prophet Elijah stayed when he was passing through that region. The woman had been very good to…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Augustine Of Canterbury

By CAROLE BRESLIN A Celtic cross erected in 1884 marks the spot in Ebbsfleet, Thanet, East Kent, where St. Augustine of Canterbury is said to have landed in 597. While some form of Christianity in England may be traced back to the times of the Roman occupation, it did not become a strong presence until the arrival of St. Augustine,…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Crispin Of Viterbo

By CAROLE BRESLIN In March 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vine (Oak) located in Tuscany, Italy, to proclaim our Lady patroness of the Diocese of Viterbo. The tradition of visiting the image of Our Lady of the Oak began 600 years ago in 1417 when Mastro Baptist Magnano Iuzzante commissioned an image…Continue Reading

COMPLETE 3 PART Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Insights On The State Of The Church In The Aftermath Of The Ordinary Synod On The Family

Cburke3

By DON FIER Part 1 (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, recently traveled from Rome to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., a magnificent place of worship which he founded and dedicated. (His Eminence graciously granted an extensive interview to The Wanderer during which he…Continue Reading