When you think of Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ, what comes to your mind? As a Baptist, I had not thought much about Mary before I entered Seminary. I have to be honest; most of my thinking about Mary was colored by the song “Mary, Did You Know?” and the children chosen to play Mary in the Christmas Nativity every year. Unfortunately, I did very little thinking about what Scripture has to tell me about the Mother of Christ. Thankfully, Scripture has a lot more to share with us about Mary than popular songs and cute kids in costumes.
In fact, each Gospel shares its own picture of Mary. As I have come to understand the importance of Advent in the liturgical calendar, I have also come to understand the importance of Mary in all of her portraits. In Mark, we are introduced to Mary, a concerned mother, worried that her son is making himself unpopular in their community. Matthew introduces us to a young woman whose future is uncertain as she chooses to trust in God instead of running away. In John’s Gospel, “the mother of Jesus” is unnamed, but we know that she stands at the cross as she witnesses her son’s death.
It is in Luke’s Gospel where the world is turned upside down by the Kingdom of God as ushered in by Jesus Christ. In Luke, Mary is a woman proclaiming the work of God for her ancestors and for those to come. It is here that we meet the Mary who proclaims the glory of God through the Magnificat, a hymn of praise and revolution. I have to admit, my favorite portrait of Mary is in the Gospel of Luke. She says:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”
It is through Mary’s words in the Magnificat that we come to understand that Mary’s concern is not with herself but with the work of God. She is marveling, from the depths of all she is, at the way God is turning the world upside down. When is the last time you have permitted yourself to marvel at the work of God? For yourself? For your ancestors? For those to come?
Friends, allow yourself, like Mary, to marvel at the work of God today.