The Blessed Mother in Biblical History

HUMAN EXPERIENCE:

Roots are important …….

Reliable sources are imperative …..

Foundations are crucial …….

WORD OF GOD :

The main source of information about the Blessed Mother, is the Gospel of Luke and Matthew, chapters 1 and 2 of each. First and foremost, the Gospel of Luke portrays Mary as one who responds unconditionally to the word of God. Her response is an act of faith. This act establishes her as a perfect believer. All her wonderful privileges derive from her obedience to the word of God. She is a model of a Christian disciple. The “Magnificat” commemorates this exemplary faith. (Please read Luke 1:46-55) It expresses a sense of wonder and joy at being offered such an opportunity. It praises the goodness of God which is reflected in effects of such a meeting of divine grace and human generosity.

 

The symbolic significance of Mary is attached mainly to her identity as mother and virgin. As mother, she is a living example of the truth, that wherever the word of God is received with wholehearted generosity, there will be a life giving and nurturing fruitfulness that transcends all the categories of sex and age. All Christian believers are therefore invited to imitate, as much as possible, the incredible fruitful motherhood of Mary. As virgin, she is a living reminder, that whenever one responds generously in faith to the word of God, there will be a “virginal” or a pure and faithful witness, to hope which will be able to challenge effectively the powerful forces of pessimism, distrust and despair.[1]

 

Mary rarely appears in the public ministry of Jesus. In Mark 3:31-35, she provides an occasion for Jesus to assert the preference of spiritual family, over and above, the natural family-bonds. Mary appears twice in the Gospel according to John (2: 3-5 and 19:25-27). We shall comment on the title “woman” referred to her latter.

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The teaching of the New Testament about our Blessed Lady, could be put in six main ideas; namely,[2]

  1. Matthew 1:18, Mary is the human mother of Jesus.

  2. Luke 1:43 and Galatians 4:4-6, Mary is the Mother of God. Elizabeth calls Mary, “the mother of my Lord.”

  3. John 19:26-27, Mary is the mother of the disciples of Jesus.

  4. Matthew 1:18 and Luke 1:34, Mary is the virgin Mother of Jesus.

  5. Acts 1:14 and 2:1, Mary is a disciple of Jesus.

  6. John 2:3, Jesus listens to his Mother.

In the Bible, our Blessed Mother, speaks six times.[3]

 

They are in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Luke and John; namely,

  1. Luke 1:34, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”

  2. Luke 1:38, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

  3. Luke 1:46-55, the “Magnificat”, “My soul magnifies the Lord …..”

  4. Luke 2:48, “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.”

  5. John 2:3, “They have no wine.”

  6. John 2:5, “Do whatever he tells you.” [4]

 

THINKING/REFLECTING ALOUD:

There are several women called Mary in the New Testament. Here, we are talking about Mary, (in Greek Maria or Mariam, in Hebrew Miriam), the Mother of Jesus. This Mary is mainly talked about in the story of the birth of Jesus (infancy narratives). Jesus is born by Mary. We are at the beginning. The early church emphasizes it. The Gospels attest to it.

 

In the adult time of Jesus, the Bible does not refer to Mary many times. Sometimes, even the words Jesus uses to address his mother raise difficulty. For example, in Matthew12:49-50, Mark 3:34-35, Luke 2:49 and 8:21 and in John 2:4 and 19:25, the words used give a feeling of unusual detachment of an adult son from his mother.

 

In these passages, however, the address of Jesus to his Mother as “woman” is not a rebuke. The writers of the Gospel want to reflect the attitude of the early Church which stressed that faith in Jesus was more important than merely bodily relations or connections. The early church did not want that people claim special positions just by being blood relatives of Jesus.  Kinship is not to be the basis of special allegations. Paul, writing to the Christians at Corinth, advises them not to put importance on having known Christ “according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16). The primitive teaching of the Church wanted to stress that Jesus was not a Messiah-Savior to the Jews and his relatives only and necessarily, but that he was a Messiah-Savior to anyone who believes in him.[5]

 

In Genesis 3:20, the first woman, Eve, was called the “mother of all living”. In the radical sense, Mary now becomes the mother of all who live by faith. Since she shared in the birth pangs of the new creation at the cross near Jesus, she is understood to be the mother of the Church. In a sense, she is the mother of all who have been renewed by the participation in the Christian suffering of unselfish love.[6]

 

This is where we come in; we who believe. In faith, Jesus is our Messiah-Savior. Through him we are adopted children. Mary is both the mother of the Messiah-Savior and our Mother too.

 

OUR DAILY LIFE:

We venerate Mary. We do not worship her. Only God is worthy of human worship. We honor Mary for her special role in the history of salvation. We ask her to pray and intercede for us. We know that Mary does not have her own power independent from the power of God. All she has is from God. She is full of grace, full of good things from God. By her intercession, we too could share in that grace and goodness. In that line, she invites us to imitate her in obedience and fruitfulness. We want to strengthen our healthy, warm and trusting affection for Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ, and Mother of us all!!!

 

Let us together: By your intercession Blessed Mother Mary, through your son Jesus Christ, in the Unity of the Holy Sprit to the Father, we implore you to inspire and strengthen us in understanding and doing your Word as revealed to us in the Bible. Help us to always be your good children by being obedient and fruitful. Deepen our love and devotion to you and to our brothers and sisters; so that all of us, may one day, be reunited with you, where you live and reign, forever and ever. Amen.

 

Given by:

Fr. Augustine Mugarura

 

[1] For details please see, Demetrius R. Dumm, “Mary, Mother of Jesus”, in The Collegeville Pastoral Dictionary of Biblical Theology, Carroll Stuhlmueller, General Editor (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 1996).

[2] Mitch Finley, Your One-Stop Guide to Mary (Ann Arbor, Michigan: Servant Publications, 2000), 13.

[3] For a more comprehensive treatment of her words, please see, Gary Caster, Mary in Her Own Words: The Mother of God in Scripture, Foreword by Archbishop John J. Myers (Cincinnati, Ohio: Servant Books an imprint of St. Anthony Messenger Press, 2006).

[4] For more treatment on Mary in the Scriptures, please see, Finley, 15-42; Jeanne Kun, My Soul Magnifies the Lord: A Scriptual Journey With Mary (Maryland: The Word Among Us Press, 2003); Leon J. Suprenant, editor, Catholic For a Reason II: Scripture and the Mystery of the Mother of God, Foreword by Bp. James S. Sullivan (Steubenville, Ohio: Emmaus Road Publ. Co., 2000) and Mitch Pacwa, Mary Virgin, Mother, and Queen: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics (Huntington, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 2014).

[5] For a deeper analysis please see, John Mckenzie, Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. “Mary”, First Touchstone Edition, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1995; originally, Macmillan Publishing Company, 1965).

[6] Dumm, column 4.

© 2016 by The Confraternity of Penitents, 1702 Lumbard Street, Fort Wayne IN USA 46803   www.penitents.org

 

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