Wednesday, December 17, 2008

A Moment For Mary

Theologian Peter Gomes told this light-hearted and illuminating story about Jesus receiving a Protestant minister at the pearly gates and making appropriate introductions: "Reverend, I know you’ve met my father, but I don't believe you know my mother."
Growing up Protestant in a very Catholic town I always felt uncertain about Mary. Our Catholic brothers and sisters have always held Mary in very high regard. Indeed, most of my friends had paintings of Mary on the walls of their homes, little statuettes on coffee tables and icons on the dashboards of their cars. Somewhere along the line we ‘reformers’ found all of this ‘to-do-about Mary’ inappropriate; she was, after all, a human being and even though she may have been set apart for a heavenly task she was not to be elevated to a divine level. Somewhere along the line it seems we ‘reformers’ may also have diminished the blessed role that Mary played in the history of humankind. As we enter this Advent season perhaps we do well to reflect on Mary’s unique calling.
Mary was pure enough to be chosen to bear God’s son. She was courageous enough to embrace a situation that was both humiliating and wondrous. She was wise enough to raise a child who would change history forever. She was strong enough to withstand the heartache that followed her boy from the moment he was born. She was faithful enough to accept the path he chose. 
Mary endured Gabriel’s visits and difficult conversations with Joseph; a sojourn with Elizabeth and a journey to Bethlehem; a night in a stable and a flight into Egypt; a life in Nazareth and a wedding in Cana; the jeers of neighbors and the rejection of a child. She was there in the manger, she was there at the cross, she was there in the garden and she was there when Christ’s church was formed. Mary embodied strength, faith, hope, sacrifice, wisdom, gentleness and perseverance; in other words, Mary was, above all things, a mother. 

Ave Maria, 
Dominus tecum, benedicta tu in mulieribus 
et benedictus fructus ventris tui Jesu.


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