Something About Mary

By Deborah

So I’ve been pondering Mary recently. Perhaps it’s my new habit of listening to ten minutes of the rosary on Catholic radio on my way to work — the repetition of those beautiful lines of scripture:

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee

Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb: Jesus

So I’ve been rereading her story recently, jotting down notes and impressions. Here’s a rough take:

Mary experienced spiritual visions in her youth

The angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. (Luke 1: 26&27)

Mary was honored by angels for her character and divinity

And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1: 28)

Mary’s found her spiritual experiences frightening and perhaps confusing

And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. (Luke 1: 29&30)

Mary experienced physical communion with God, perhaps symbolic of our need to experience emotions in the flesh (as Jesus did) as a way to come to understand and embrace God

And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. (Luke 1:31)

Mary was rational.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? (Luke 1:34)

Mary had faith in the impossible and she presented herself with bold faith

the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible.
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 35 – 38)

Mary sought the company, comfort, and wisdom of women

And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. (Luke 1:39&40)

Mary and Elisabeth experienced a prophetic moment together, a outpouring of the spirit, a gift of tongues and prophesy

And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.
And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. (Luke 1:41 – 45)

Mary replied prophetically in kind, giving a powerful testimony of her son and her God

And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.
And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;
As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
(Luke 1:46 – 55)

Mary – in extreme conditions – took care of the physical needs of her child

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

Mary was reflective.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. (Luke 2: 18&19)

Mary knew – through Simeon’s revelation – that a sword would pierce her soul before her sojourn with motherhood was through.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. (Luke 2:34-35)

Mary experienced the pain of being apart from her family as a young mother – an immigrant.

Mary, with Joseph, provided a strong spiritual base for their son:

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. (Luke 2:40 – 42)

Mary experienced the full range of emotions while mothering Jesus: sorrow, anxiety, joy, anger

And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. (Luke 2:43 – 48 )

Mary didn’t always understand her teenage son . . .

And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. (Luke 2:49 – 50)

. . . but she sought to understand him, she pondered the question – who is this boy of mine? – and she was willing to learn from him.

And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.


This combination of love, humility, instruction, wisdom, and rich spirituality helped shape Jesus:

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

More thoughts?

Deborah

Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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12 Responses

  1. Kirsten says:

    I greatly appreciated your ponderings on Mary. I especially like the idea that she sought to understand her child and was willing to learn from him. As a parent I strive to do the same and hope that it makes me a better one. Her parenting skills must have been amazing, as she brought up the Son of God to be a person of such compassion and kindness.

  2. Alisa says:

    I absolutely loved this post. This provided more enlightenment than I’ve had for awhile. “Behold the handmaid of the Lord”: I love that phrase, and would make it my mantra if I were more faithful.

    Also, I love how the number 8 + parenthesis makes a smiley face. 🙂

  3. Deborah says:

    Alisa: Nice catch — I fixed it, but maybe I shouldn’t have.

    Kirsten: What I love about the episode in the temple . . . she’s not a hands-off mom. Her impulse is to appropriately reprimand. But she also listens to his perspective — PONDERS his perspective — learns from it. Honors his emerging personhood (and godhood).

  4. m&m says:

    I love this. Thank you.

  5. Wonderful post, I especially like the way you wrote it, it reminds me of a call and response style liturgy. Oh, and I love the concept of Mary and Elizabeth’s prophetic moment over each other in pregnancy!

  6. jessawhy says:

    Deborah,
    You are so insightful. I found your comments and the scriptures very uplifting.
    I like to think about Mary but often wonder what makes her different than any of the rest of us? I’m oddly uncomfortable with the idea that she was preordained to her calling. (I’m not sure why I don’t like thinking that) Do we think of other women in the scriptures as preordained to any other callings?

  7. Deborah says:

    Jesswhy wrote: Do we think of other women in the scriptures as preordained to any other callings?

    I suppose I do — to the extent that I believe in foreordination. But I readily admit that I really don’t know what that entails. Why Mary? Why Joseph Smith? Why Esther? To what extent does our pre-mortality influence mortality? I think it can be a tricky area of speculation, given the inequity of this existence.

    But we believe that Jesus was foreordained for his atoning mission — was destined for this immortal mortal role. Why not his mother?

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