Open Bible: August 2002 

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Does Mary, a Jewish woman, the mother of Jesus, find room in our faith ? In our imagination ? Is she a queen of whom one expects favours ? A maternal refuge from the harshness of life ? The feminine presence in a masculine institution ? A light in our path ?
What if we overlooked for a while what twenty centuries of Christianity did for Mary and simply looked at the Gospels ?

Marie et l'ange Gabriel  Under the sobriety of the gospel language is hidden a great density of life. In the first chapters of Luke, which contain meaning which goes far beyond the mere words, Mary is not overcome by the extraordinary promise of the Angel Gabriel. She is not a credulous woman, she demands an explanation: "How will this come about?" Then she leaves to go and meet her cousin Elizabeth.  

When one carries a too large and too heavy secret, one has need to trust a friendly ear, an ear which one is sure will understand one; that is why Mary undertook the long road from Nazareth to Eln Karem. The meeting between the two women is full of interior meaning. Under the inspiration of the Spirit, they are transparent to each other. And Mary, the silent one, intones the Magnificat that announces that God overthrows the powerful from their throne and sends away the rich with empty hands.

Much later on, she shows her preoccupation. The word is going round that Jesus is behaving in a strange manner. He is teaching and they come to tell him: "Your mother and brothers are asking for you." Mary could feel that the opposition to Jesus was growing. She knew what was the fate of prophets. She feared for the life of her son. Perhaps she was also a little troubled that his teaching did not always fit in with that of the High Priests. To oppose those who are supposed to be the holders of the truth demands a lot of insight and of courage.

à Cana  In John's Gospel we meet her at Cana."They have run out of wine," she tells her son, who answers her: "My hour has not yet come." It is rather as if Mary were giving birth to Jesus's ministry. So she simply tells the servers: "Do what he asks you to do." 

By the cross, she is standing. She will remain staunch to the end. For the last time, Jesus addresses his mother. Solemnly, he calls her "woman" and adds "here is your son", pointing to John who is standing next to her. To the apostle he declares "here is your mother !" Tender and cruel word: her child, the one she brought into the world, whom she brought up, whom she cared for, is dying in the midst of horror. And he entrusts her with another child, to whom, at the same time, he offers her. As if a child can replace another child ! Maternity cannot turn in on itself, it must still and always give life.

Nothing is told us about Mary and the Resurrection. This passed in the secret of her heart. We find her in the cenacle, the high chamber in which, after the departure of Jesus, the disciples met in "unanimity" according to the Acts of the Apostles, "assiduous in prayer, together with some women, among whom was Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his brothers."

This is the first image, simple and beautiful, of a Church being born: the friends of Jesus, men and women, his brothers, his mother, all together awaiting the Spirit.