You took the plunge, you went to the nearest Catholic Church. But you didn’t take my advice. It was too intimidating to follow all those people in. So, you did a little reconnaissaince. You found the Mass times and you decided to go at a time when the building would be vacant. First, you drove by and saw no one there. So, you parked and inspected the grounds. And the first thing you saw was a great big Cross with Jesus still on it.
Why? Don’t they know that Jesus rose and is sitting at the right hand of the Father?
Yes. But for Catholics, everything begins and ends with the Cross. As the Scripture says:
1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
1 Corinthians 2:2 For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
You continued to survey the grounds and found a statue of a woman, the inscription on it said, “Our Lady of Fatima”. A young couple comes by, kneels and waving some beads in front of their face, begins to say something. You deduce that this must be a statue of Mary.
This is terrible! Why do they worship Mary? Don’t they know that God said not to worship graven images!?
Yes. But there are several false assumptions embedded in those thoughts, bear with me as I extricate them one by one.
1. Why is Mary there?
Just as you will find a statue of Jesus in Catholic Church, you will also find a statue of Mary. Why? Because the Church is the household of God. Where else would Jesus’ mother be? As Scripture says, the wise who seek to worship Jesus, will find Him with His mother:
Matthew 2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, 2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him…..11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: ….
2. But these are graven images, statues?!
The Bible forbids idolatry, the worship of graven images. Not the making of them. God, Himself, commanded Moses to make some graven images:
Numbers 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. 10 And the children of Israel set forward, and pitched in Oboth.
3. If those people weren’t worshipping the statue, they were worshipping Mary, whom the statue depicts!
No, they weren’t. For us, kneeling is not automatically worship. It is, more usually, a sign of respect. In the same vein, if we are standing before an image of Our Lord, we are probably worshipping in silent prayer. We can worship when we’re standing, sitting or kneeling. We can even worship while we are walking. We can also pay our respects to the Saints of God in the same way, because God loves His Saints:
Zechariah 14:5 And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
So, you continue your inspection. You see more statuary, a priest holding a bird, another holding a book and a nun holding a cross and what appears to be a rose. Then, you inspect the building. It is rather attractive and the windows have beautiful, shiny colors. You realize that they are stained glass and made to be appreciated from inside. So, you test the doors. Wow? They’re open.
You step inside and there’s a second set of doors. You go through those and when you look up, “Surprise!”, there are a bunch of people in there?! But they don’t seem to notice you. They’re focused on an object inside a sort of golden framed container. What is that? No one is paying attention to you, so you move a little closer.
Oh, no! Is that the infamous cracker that Catholics worship??! I thought that was an anti-Catholic lie?!
Its not a cracker. It used to be a piece of unleavened bread. But it is now Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
John 6:34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
And that’s when you got out of there, in a hurry. So what now? Can you believe?