Anonymous: I notice that you left untouched the last paragraph of Gerry Soliman’s post. Don’t get me wrong, I mean why?
What about Revelations 11:19 to 12:1 wherein the Ark was seen in Heaven and the continuing verses in chapter 12 notes a woman who gave birth to the Savior? It doesn't follow. In Revelations 12:2 the woman cried out in pain while giving birth. Birth pains is the punishment of Eve's sin (Genesis 3:16). To say that the woman in Revelations 12 is Mary, it jeopardizes the Immaculate Conception where Mary is said to be free from sin. Historically, the woman in Revelations 12 is interpreted as the people of God.
Yes. I did it with purpose – to show how some people doesn't want to accept the truth.
[Mr. Soliman’s words are in Red]
In fact, this is not new; Mr. Soliman already raised this question to Atty. Mars, a well known Catholic Apologist. On Atty. Mars’ blog comments section dated November 4, 2009, Mr. Soliman wrote:
“Your article here identifies Mary as the woman in Revelations 12:1ff. I would like to ask if this in any way affect the dogma of the Immaculate Conception? As you know God punished Eve by increasing her birth pains.”
Here’s an excerpt from Atty. Mars’ response:
Now let’s turn to Mr. Soliman’s question. He said: “I would like to ask if this in any way affect the dogma of the Immaculate Conception? As you know God punished Eve by increasing her birth pains.”
The real concern of Mr. Soliman, based on his question, is to debunk the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Of course, we know that in Genesis 3:16, God cursed the fallen Eve with the words: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” So, Mr. Soliman’s point really is: if Mary is free from original sin, then she should be free from child-bearing pains; but, if the woman in Revelation 12 is Mary, why did she cry out in pain as she was about to give birth? (Rev. 12:2).
To answer Mr. Soliman, verse 2 of Revelation 12 does not in any way affect the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Because, just like Mr. Soliman, we don’t interpret it literally. In his comment in my blog article, Mr. Soliman said, “I don't interpret it literally …” to which I replied that “there are points of agreement already between his position and ours.”
I hold Mr. Soliman’s word that he does not interpret Revelation 12:2 literally. And so do we. From this point of agreement, I shall explain why, from the Catholic view, Revelation 12:2 does not affect the dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
We Catholics do recognize the fact that, as stated in Revelation 12:2, there are indeed “labor pains.” But what are these labor pains? Author John McHugh who sees Mary not as the primary ‘woman’ of Revelation 12 but still sees her as the woman in a secondary manner, notes:
“The woman, we read was ‘in anguish for delivery’ (Revised Standard Version). The Greek verb here translated ‘in anguish for delivery’ (Revised Standard Version). The Greek verb here translated ‘in anguish’ is never once used in the Septuagint, the New Testament, the apocrypha, the papyri or the Fathers to denote the pains of physical birth; and this is all the more remarkable when one remembers the scene of a painful birth is alluded to in these writings. The word can perhaps best be rendered as ‘going through torment or torture’, and it is therefore a very surprising verb to encounter when one recalls the radiant description of the woman in 12:1” [John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament (Doubleday & Company, Inc.: Garden City, NY, 1975) p.411].
Indeed, Revelation 12:2 does not show that the woman is experiencing physical labor pains, and if the author of the Apocalypse had wanted to say so, he would have certainly used such language. Instead, here it seems that the Seer of Patmos is speaking of a double birth. The pain the woman is suffering here is not indicating she was suffering pain in birth, but the suffering at seeing her Son’s agonizing pain and suffering on Calvary.
Catholic Biblical exegete Fr. Stefano Manelli, explains –
“The pains of childbirth of the “woman” seem to constitute a particular problem, if they are referred to the virginal childbirth of Mary at Bethlehem. If instead, they are referred to the childbirth of Mary on Calvary, where she is constituted “truly the mother of the members of Christ”, as St. Augustine affirms (quoted by Lumen Gentium, no. 53), then we too can understand with other exegetes, among them D. Squillaci, that to our Lady “is to be ascribed a double childbirth: one natural and virginal, by which without pain or injury of any kind, she begot the Son of God the physical Christ: the other spiritual, by means of which on Calvary, uniting her sufferings to those of the Redeemer, she begot the Mystical Body of Christ.
According to R. Laurentin, the difficulty over the pains of childbirth on the part of the “woman” of Revelation can be eliminated by a comparison:
“In Apoc. 5:6 Christ appears in heaven in the form of an immolated lamb (cf. Jn 19:36). The sufferings of the woman who also appears in heaven in Apoc 12:2, stands in relation to the immolation of the celestial Lamb. Thus, in the 12th chapter of Apocalypse, the reference is not to the childbirth at Bethlehem, but to the words of Christ on the cross: “Son, behold your Mother” (Jn 19:26). It is a question of the spiritual motherhood of Mary and of the compassion with which the Mother of Jesus shares in the sufferings of the immolated Lamb. Jn 12:9 and Apoc 12 are therefore, in strict relation to one another. In each passage Mary’s motherhood in relation to the disciples entails a context of suffering (Jn. 19:25; Apoc 12:2)” [Stefano Manelli,FFI, All Generations Shall Call Me Blessed (New Bedford, Massachusetts: Academy of the Immaculate, 1995), pp. 356-357].
Expounding on this, a Catholic apologist explains –
“Thus, here John is speaking about a different type of suffering. Thus, for example, in Gal 4:19, Paul was in birth pains until Christ was formed within his readers. Also, Rom. 8:22 shows ‘All creation has been groaning in travail together until now.’ When speaking about Lot who was the only righteous one in Sodom and Gomorra, it says that ‘he was vexed by his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds). Thus, the suffering can be spiritual. So how does this relate to Mary? Mary gives birth to Christ, and his sufferings on Calvary. Well, there was a a prophecy given by Simeon, in Luke 2:34-35 that speaks to this very issue, as brought up in Rev. 12:2:
34 and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed."
So Mary underwent the spiritual suffering at Calvary. Her soul was pierced when she saw her Son die on the cross. There is a richness in Luke 2:34-35, which shows how Mary suffered. But not only on the cross. John McHugh notes that the traditional classical interpretation in Catholic thought is that the sword signifies the suffering felt by Mary as she stood by the cross, watching the death-agony of her son. McHugh gives a lot of evidence to say that the suffering of Mary speaks to much more than that (pages 104-112 of his book), but also in Lk. 2:35:
The ‘classical interpretation’ of Lk 2:35a (that Mary was suffering watching the suffering of Christ on the cross) may therefore be restated with this perspective of Luke in mind. ‘Thou thyself, O Israel, shall feel a sword pass through they soul.’ Mary as an individual had rejoiced to be the mother of him who would fulfill the promises made to Abraham; as the Daughter of Zion, more aware than anyone else of the destiny of her child, she welcomed his coming for the joy it would bring to Israel and to the world (cf. once more the Magnificat). Yet in the course of Jesus‘ public life she had to watch the mounting opposition to her son, and knew that the leaders of Israel were thereby turning against their saviour. Her mental sufferings reached a climax on Calvary, but they had begun long before. And even at the foot of the cross, she suffered a double agony. She watched the physical torment and heard the mockery directed at Jesus, her son but in addition she had the far greater sorrow of knowing that the appointed leaders of God‘s chosen people had refused the message of salvation” [citing John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament (Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1975), p. 111].
In conclusion, the online Catholic apologist states –
Thus, this directly speaks to the issue of Revelation 12. Now, we also saw in Revelation 12 that right after speaking about her suffering in v. 2, it speaks to the dragon chasing the woman and the child, seeking to devour them. Her child is caught up to the throne. Thus, it speaks to his both resurrection and ascension into heaven. This is done after the fact of her suffering. Thus, the suffering pointed to in Revelation 12:2 points exactly to the suffering that she entailed when seeing the rejection of her Son, that reached its fulfillment on the cross. In addition to this, we see her as the Spiritual mother of all of Christ’s children (Jn. 19:27, Rev. 12:17). Now, as Mary is still the only one who is Jesus’ mother, this shows a double birth, both a physical birth of Christ, and a spiritual birth, where she begets the children of Christ. That brings with it also a painful spiritual childbirth, as we have seen in other passages which show spiritual suffering (2 Pet. 2:8, Gal. 4:19, Rom. 8:22)” (ibid).
Now, a simple analysis can be drawn:
Mr. Soliman without presenting any counterargument on why he didn’t believe as such and Instead of answering Atty. Mars’ rebuttal [that the phrase birth pain in Revelation 12:2 does not imply physical labor pain as mentioned in Genesis 3:16] and to propose new line of argument/s; he only repeats what he says [his broken line] almost three years now.
It reminds me of an Old Fashion style Bigotry!
Bigotry can be simplified here:
If the answer is not A, he is correct and you are wrong;
If the answer is not blue, he is correct and you are wrong;
He will not give you why he is correct, for him he is correct and you are wrong.
"The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract." - Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
By the way on his claim that the woman in Revelation Chapter 12 is referred to the people of God, well I don’t argue with that because we Catholic see that as (a) Israel (b) The Church and (c) Mary:
When the Book of Revelation speaks of the great sign of a Woman appearing in heaven, she is understood to represent all Israel, indeed, the whole Church. . . .
On the basis of the “corporate personality” model—in keeping with biblical thought—the early Church had no difficulty recognizing in the Woman, on the one hand, Mary herself and, on the other hand, transcending time, the Church, bride and mother, in which the mystery of Mary spreads out into history [Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth 2:222].
This Woman represents Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer, but at the same time she also represents the whole Church, the People of God of all times, the Church which in all ages, with great suffering, brings forth Christ ever anew [Pope Benedict XVI General Audience, Aug. 23, 2006].