Explain similarities and differences in “sinless from the womb ” for James, John the Baptist and Mary
Catholic Church acknowledge Mary and St.John the Baptist are both sinless from the womb while St. James has no clear Church teaching to substantiate his sinlesssness from the womb. We know Jesus has two apostles St.James the Greater and St. James the Lesser. Both of these two apostles have no account in the bible describing how they are conceive or born. Both the two St.James are known to be a just man, St. James the Greater is associated in evangelization and one well-known account is the Our Lady of Pillar apparition in the year 40AD. While St. James the Lesser was known to have spent his life praying in the Temple of Jerusalem.
The First Marian Apparition in Church History: Our Lady of the Pillar
With St. John the Baptist there is a prophecy in Gospel of Luke;
" He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb." (Luke1:15)
But the actual accounts described the Holy Spirit filled St.Elizabeth first and the baby leaped in her womb. Catholics acknowledge the leaping as a sign of Divine Life was given meaning St.John the Baptist received the outpouring of "sanctifying grace". Luke 1:41-50 tells the whole account of Visitation.
Mary "sinless from the womb" was declared in the Church Dogma of Immaculate Conception.
Answer to featured question regarding St. John the Baptist and Jeremiah comparison on the word sanctification & consecration.
Since Jesus & Mary was acknowledge by the Church as "sinless from the womb" and even declaring the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception, it's better to focus our attention on the new question on prophet Jeremiah and St. John the Baptist comparison and differences in sanctification and for Jeremiah even other translation rendered the word consecration.
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Also, this question had a link of discussion on Jeremiah & St.John the Baptist believe to have been born without original sin here: What is the biblical basis for Jeremiah and John the Baptist being born without original sin?
Is there a difference between the word sanctification vs. consecration? Do they both implied the same thing according to scriptures cited in the Book of Jeremiah and the Gosepel of St.Luke?
Let's revisit and ponder the scripture passages;
The Call of Jeremiah
4 The word of the Lord came to me, saying,
5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew[a] you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
6 “Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.”
7 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. 8 Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
9 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:4-10)
Here from this passages, we can see the following words;
Before I formed you, I set you apart, I appointed you plus the God Himself had a conversation to Jeremiah and made an action to put emphasis on Jeremiah that God Himself will empower him by doing and saying this "Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth."
Let's compare what the scene from St. John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke;
Luke 1:41-50 New International Version (NIV) 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”
Let's take a look to ponder what happened;
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.
St. Elizabeth was the one filled by the Holy Spirit first as scripture clearly testified.
As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy
Now, when St. Elizabeth heard the greeting She was filled with the Holy Spirit, the question is, Is the feeling of joy of St.Elizabeth having filled by the Holy Spirit felt by St. John of the Baptist? or St. John the Baptist leaped because he personally heard even as a baby the greetings of the Blessed Virgin Mary?
From the way the scriptures was written, the feeling of joy of St. Elizabeth the Mother was felt too by his child in the womb, when the Holy Spirit filled St. Elizabeth her whole person was filled including his child.So, the passages speaks of sanctification of both the Mother & the Child by the Holy Spirit.
Now, let's compare this to Jeremiah, the only reference to Jeremiah are the word of the God saying "before you were born I set you apart" this words correspond to the meaning of "consecration".
Consecration [N] [S] the devoting or setting apart of anything to the worship or service of God. The race of Abraham and the tribe of Levi were thus consecrated ( Exodus 13:2 Exodus 13:12 Exodus 13:15 ; Numbers 3:12 ). The Hebrews devoted their fields and cattle, and sometimes the spoils of war, to the Lord ( Leviticus 27:28 Leviticus 27:29 ). According to the Mosaic law the first-born both of man and beast were consecrated to God.
In the New Testament, Christians are regarded as consecrated to the Lord (1 Peter 2:9).
From Blessed Catherine Emmerich we can find the word Mary was consecrated first as the Church;
With the Angel’s salutation the Blessed Virgin was consecrated as the Church. With the words ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word’, the Word entered into her, saluted by the Church, by His maidservant. God was now in His Temple, Mary was now the Temple and the Ark of the New Covenant
Blessed Emmercih described the greetings of Elizabeth to Mary and the movement of the baby in her womb as the first act of worship on the presence of the New Tabernacle having the presence of God-Man Jesus in the New Ark of the Covenant.
Elizabeth’s greeting and the movement of John beneath his mother’s heart was the first act of worship of the community in the presence of this Holy Thing.
Now let's take a look how the Blessed Virgin Mary thought St.Elizabeth the Magnificat for her to consecrate St. John the Baptist after receiving "sanctification" by the Holy Spirit.
IX. THE VISITATION 81
1.Mary let go Elizabeth’s arm, which she had clasped, crossed her hands over her breast and uttered the Magnificat with exaltation.
I saw that Elizabeth followed in prayer the whole of the Magnificat in a similar state of exaltation
I saw Mary and Elizabeth in their little room. They stood opposite each other, as if rapt in ecstasy, and said the Magnificat in prayer together.
I saw Elizabeth and the Blessed Virgin in the house. Every morning and evening they joined together in prayer and recited the Magnificat, which Mary had received from the Holy Ghost at Elizabeth’s greeting of her.
Tonight, as I watched the two holy women at their prayers, I had many visions and explanations of the Magnificat and of the coming of the Blessed Sacrament in the present condition of the Blessed Virgin.
I saw as usual the two holy women with child standing opposite one another in prayer and reciting the Magnificat.
Again, as the two holy women prayed, I saw a part of the mystery of the Magnificat,...The Magnificat is a hymn of thanks for the fulfillment of the blessing given in the sacrament of the Old Covenant.
Life of the Blessed Virgin Mary
As we can see from the scriptures the "sanctification" comes first and the "consecration" requires God action in Jeremiah by touching his lips. In the case of St. John the Baptist the "sanctification" happened when they heard Mary's greeting and since the Theotokos was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit Her words contained the Power of the Holy Spirit that leads to the outpouring of "sanctifying graces" not only to St.John but especially to St.Elizabeth first. The "consecration" takes place after and the visions of Blessed Emmerich described how it happened.The three months of Blessed Virgin Mary's visit to St. Elizabeth purpose was to accompanied her in prayers daily reciting the Maginificat for the Will of God be fulfilled in St. John the Baptist. The two Holy Women were consecrating St. John the Baptist to God's Will and purpose.
In closing, this is the Wisdom of the Scriptures while God in the Old Testament was the one directly consecrating the chosen prophets & patriarchs according to His pleasure and will written in Ephesians1:3-6. In the New Testament, Mary the Theotokos is the one aiding the People of God in consecrating the chosen ones and in our times it is called "The Apostle of the Last/End Times"(JESUS LIVING IN MARY:
HANDBOOK OF THE SPIRITUALITY OF ST. LOUIS DE MONTFORT) "III. THE APOSTLES OF THE END TIMES). This is the birth of St. Montfort True Devotion to Our Lady the Total Consecration to Jesus thru Mary biblically.