Mary: Did You Know?

During this waiting for Christmas, around the feast of the Immaculate Conception, it’s an especially good time for Catholics and non-Catholics alike to reflect on the Blessed Mother, Mary. After all, at this point two thousand years ago, her and St. Joseph were the only ones on the scene.

I once heard a spoken word poet criticize the affection folks have for Mary. Essentially, she said, “Name one accomplishment that Mary has that doesn’t involve her virginity.” That’s easy—Jesus points them out all the time. I can think of twice in the Bible when He seems like He’s degrading her role as a mother, but He’s not:

While he was speaking, a woman from the crowd called out and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that carried you and the breasts at which you nursed.”  He replied, “Rather, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it” (Luke 11:27-28).

Seems like He’s brushing her off, right? Well, who better than Mary heard the word of God and observed it? She who, to the angel of the Lord, replied, “Let it be done to me according to thy Word.” Good grief, no wonder we call her Blessed.

In another instance:

While he was still speaking to the crowds, behold, his mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to him. Someone said to him, “Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to you.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling him and said, “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Behold my mother and my brothers! “For whoever does the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:46-50).

This isn’t an exclusion of His mother, but an inclusion of everyone else; this shows that Jesus loves us just as much as He loves His family. In fact, it deepens the familial bonds: Mary would always seek to do the will of God, so she’s not just a mother biologically, but spiritually. We’ve all known instances where a family member is really only family by blood, or a friend is close enough emotionally to really be a sibling—Mary fulfills both of these qualities.

So often is Mary “both.” She is mother and virgin. She is both an incredibly special woman chosen out of time and humanity to bear the Son of God and a human created with temptations and sorrows. She is both Queen of Heaven and the young girl from Nazareth. She is both “clement, loving, and sweet” and the same woman we see casually crushing the head of the devil under her heel. She is truly our Mother—a role model, indeed, but also someone with whom we can share a tender relationship. During this season of Advent, let’s eagerly await her Son with her.

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