The following bible verses are referenced from the YouTube post of Know the Truth on ” Larawan at Pagsamba (Statues and Images)” presented by apologist Atty Marwil Llasos, OP and Rev Fr Abe Arganiosa from Know the Truth (KTT) Philippines. For the actual video, please check https://youtu.be/a58NNDs12Vw
Totoo ba na ang mga Katoliko ay sumasamba sa mga larawan? Is it true that Catholics worship images and statues?
This is a very common accusation to us Catholics. But let us read first what our faith says about this. Sa Mateo 4:10 Ang Biblia (ABTAG1978) > 10 Nang magkagayo’y sinabi sa kaniya ni Jesus, Humayo ka, Satanas: sapagka’t nasusulat, Sa Panginoon mong Dios sasamba ka, at siya lamang ang iyong paglilingkuran.
It is clear here what Jesus teaches – that we should worship only our God. And we follow this as Catholics. Hence, we do not worship Mother Mary as she is not God. No catechism of the Catholic Church tells that we should worship images nor Mother Mary.
Latria (Pagsamba) is only for our God. CCC, our official catechism is codified and published. Hence, everyone can check that there is no teaching at all that says we should worship statues and images. Walang kautusan na sambahin ang larawan at imahen. No straight person will worship images, as this is idolatrous. We worship Jesus as He is God, and Mother Mary is honored (hyperdulia), but not worship.
We are accused of worshipping statues or images because we kneel down in prayers in front of them.
Unfortunately, this shows that our accusers do not read the bible properly. There is no mention that kneeling means worshipping. Is kneeling against our teachings? Let us look as some bible references with regards to the act of kneeling down.
- KING SOLOMON knelt down in front of the altar
Sa 1 Mga Hari 8:54 Ang Biblia, 2001 (ABTAG2001) > 54 Pagkatapos na ialay ni Solomon ang lahat ng dalangin at samong ito sa Panginoon, siya’y tumindig mula sa harap ng dambana ng Panginoon at doon ay lumuhod na ang kanyang mga kamay ay nakalahad paharap sa langit.
In English, (New American Bible Revised Edition, NABRE)
54 After Solomon finished offering this entire prayer and petition to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling, hands outstretched toward heaven.
Therefore, we, Catholics, also kneel down in front of our home´s altar and inside our churches to give honor to our Lord.
But what is inside the temple of Jerusalem? There we find the Ark of the Covenant. We have Joshua who actually knelt in front of the Ark of the Covenant.
- JOSHUA also knelt in front of the Ark of the covenant (kaban ng tipan). We will find this in Josue 7:6 (NABRE) 6 Joshua, together with the elders of Israel, tore their garments and fell face down before the ark of the Lord until evening; and they threw dust on their heads.
Picture here (Source: https://francismary.org/category/catholic-articles/) shows Joshua kneeling in front of the Ark of the Covenant. On the right, we see here the Ark of the covenant, which is a box containing the 10 commandments, the rod of Aaron and manna, on top with 2 graved images of golden cherubim.
The Ark of the Covenant is made according to the instruction of God. Let us read Exodus 25:17-22 (NABRE) > 17 You shall then make a cover of pure gold, two and a half cubits long, and one and a half cubits wide. 18 Make two cherubim of beaten gold for the two ends of the cover; 19 make one cherub at one end, and the other at the other end, of one piece with the cover, at each end. 20 The cherubim shall have their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them; they shall face each other, with their faces looking toward the cover. 21 This cover you shall then place on top of the ark. In the ark itself you are to put the covenant which I will give you. 22 There I will meet you and there, from above the cover, between the two cherubim on the ark of the covenant, I will tell you all that I command you regarding the Israelites.
Graven images of Cherubim are made according to the instruction of God, “with their wings spread out above, sheltering the cover with them …. Their faces looking toward the cover.” To kneel in front of them is not to worship the Cherubim but to honor the Ark of the Covenant. (Note: Moses was given the instruction to build the ark of the covenant, a year after they left Egypt. This is setup at the Holy of holies in the tabernacle. See layout below.)
In a similar way, Mother Mary is called “blessed” in Luke 1:28 >28 And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Therefore, kneeling in front of Mother Mary is giving honor but we, Catholics, do not worship her.
Let us recall that we also build statues for our heroes like Jose Rizal and Ninoy Aquino – in fact, we do flag-raising ceremonies in front of them. That is not worshipping. In the US, heroes like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln whose statues and memorials are built as a sign of respect and remembrance of their exemplary deeds for the country.
We do not attack those who pay respect to these artistic representatives of great men. In fact, we even teach children to follow our tradition of respect.
Do we not give recognition to prominent players like Manny Pacquiao and David Beckham, where they have pictures (larawan). We accept their accomplishments and recognize images or pictures of them just like what we did in the old times.
So then, why can´t we pay honor and respect to Mary who is blessed among all women, the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ?
If we read Matthew 23:29 (NABRE) > 29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the memorials of the righteous,
Even in the old times, it is allowed to build tombs and adorn the memorials of righteous men. What Jesus abhors is, not the building of the temples and memorials but the hypocrisy (mapagimbabaw) of the Jews.
INC has a monument of Felix Manalo, and that is no difference from the honor we give to honourable men.
Followers of Eddie Villanueva and Wildie Almeda carry the posters of their pastors.
Then can we not have pictures of our Lord? In Colossians 1:15 > He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation,
We do not stop other faiths to show their pastors in pictures.
Exodus 20:3-5 (NABRE) > 3 You shall not have other gods beside me. 4 You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; 5 you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation;
We do not create images of god, other than the God we worship, for we know, we have a jealous God.
For those who made images of other gods like Baal, Jupiter, Buddha, this is forbidden. In fact, Catholics were responsible for tearing down some of the pagan worships in Rome and other places, like Mexico during the time of Mayans. The Igorot deities called anito, are only used now as décor.
Our accusers should be thankful to the Catholic Church for what she has done in order to instil a true worship to a true God.
Thank you for your time. Feel free to follow the Youtube link above to hear the original presentation of Know the Truth – Larawan at Pagsamba (Statues and Images)