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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Blessed Virgin Mary

Did you ever think that Jesus' mother got a bad rap? Think yourself in her position after the shocking announcement by the angel. When her pregnancy was disclosed, who really believed her? The Bible tells us that even her pending husband was sure she had been unfaithful. He was planning to get rid of her privately.

Come on now, if your daughter says to you, "Daddy, my pregnancy test was positive. I've tried it a second time. But I've never had intimate relations with any guy." "Yeah, right! And did you see any pigs fly today?" Two thousand years ago they knew about the birds and the bees. It took a special revelation from God to turn Joseph's mind, and presumably he was the one person who trusted her most.

When the angel explained the details of her virgin pregnancy Mary submitted herself to the Lord's will with humble praise. She was truly a pious chick. But what about the neighbors? What were they whispering behind the hand? At her cousin's home it becomes apparent that Elizabeth was on board with highest honors for cousin Mary. And Mary erupted with praise to God, her Savior, mentioning that all generations will call her blessed.

Unfortunately we protestants have over-reacted to the Roman Catholic Church who are coming ever closer to worshipping Mary (the last thing she would have desired then or now). So when we hear the phrase, "The Blessed Virgin Mary" we react in revulsion. We would never use that phrase, and yet Mary anticipated that it would be appropriate down through the ages, and she was right.

At the wedding feast in Cana, Jesus said something that sounds a little like a rebuke to Mary. She tells Jesus that the embarrassed couple had run out of wine, and Jesus responds by saying something like, "Lady, what business do we have with each other?" Maybe we don't get it, and maybe he is reminding his mother that in the miracle business He has no assistants. At any rate humble Mary simply tells those waiters to do whatever He tells them.

When we get to the little band of disciples gathering after the ascension of Christ, there is Mary among them. She had learned long before this that Jesus, even though He was her son, is her Lord and Savior. It must have taken amazing mental and spiritual gymnastics for her to understand her place, but, young as she was, remember Mary was always keeping these things and pondering them in her heart. She is my sister in Christ, and she is a wise and wonderful one. Let's give her all the honor that is appropriate.

Three cheers for the blessed virgin Mary!


  1. My youngest daughter, Christa, recently converted to Catholicism. And we continue to "discuss" Marian worship. Personally, I think it detracts from Christ. Mary was no more sacred than you or me. They call her the "Mother of God" - can't be since He always existed. She was the original surrogate! The distraction and sharing of glory with Christ is wrong - it's hard enough to keep our focus on Christ, without images, apostles, Mary, tradition and all the other antics the RC piles on. You might like to read "Rome Sweet Home" - a book by an OPC couple that converted -

  2. It's Christa, the above mentioned RC convert. I like this blog post a lot and was very happy to read it.
    Just some thoughts:
    I understand that Marian devotion is difficult for Non-Catholics (it was one of my most difficult hurdles in converting), but many Protestants go to the other extreme and completely ignore Mary so as not to appear Catholic. This is a silly prejudice and my personal experience with learning to love and cherish (not worship; the term is veneration or devotion, which is to say: to honor) Mary has been one of theological and spiritual enrichment, not one of kooky superstition or of detracting from Christ's glory.

    In the record we have of Jesus's life, the Scripture, Mary is present at very important times in Christ's life, some of which I will mention here... His birth, the beginning of His public life (Feast at Cana), and at His death.

    His birth, which we celebrate at this glorious time of year, is where we start. During her pregnancy, Mary carried to Word in her belly. When she sees her cousin Elizabeth, and Jesus and John kick... This seems to be a spiritual picture of evangelization. It is the Word that we must all carry inside ourselves and bring to others. Mary had not said anything to Elizabeth and so it seems that it is our silent acts, our very presence as Christians, where Christ is most revealed to others.
    Then Thea says oh well, she was just the surrogate. I think this is a very flimsy way to look at the full human embodiment of God and the importance of mothers, but she already knows my thoughts on that ;).

    The wedding feast at Cana is very interesting. Indeed the rebuke is a bit perplexing. One thing to note is that the translation "woman" does not in its original language denote any kind of disrespect. And then notice what happens afterwards: HE DOES THE MIRACLE. It is as if Mary gave Christ a kind of "push", as any mother might do when they know their child has something very special to share. And Christ, for his part, goes through with it.

    At His death, Mary is at the foot of the Cross; to imagine her immense agony at the moment is an act of profound spiritual reflection. One thinks of her love for Christ in that moment, and one wants to imitate it.
    Then Christ says something very interesting to Mary and to the Apostle John...
    In John 19 it says: So Jesus, seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, said to his mother, "Woman, behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Behold your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her into his family.
    These were among Christ's last recorded words and deserve a very weighty reflection. Catholic Tradition holds that John in this moment represents all Christians, thus in this moment Mary becomes the mother (not the sister) of Christians.

    No matter the divide on Marian devotion, let us remember always that Mary was the first Christian; her Fiat to the Angel Gabriel is the response we all ought to give to God when he calls us to his service. Her life of service and faithful presence with Christ is the life we all ought to strive for. We know Christ better by knowing Mary better. Thanks for your efforts in sharing that beautiful fact with the world.

    Christmas cheers, Christa

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  5. There are no "celebrites" among the people of God. Mary is no exception. She is my sister in Christ or she is not, but she is not my superior. Remember that Jesus also told an attentive crowd, "Whoever does God's will is my brother and sister and mother." (Mark 3:35)

    I preached a sermon on this text, titled, "You might be Jesus' mother."