It is so easy to forget Mary was a teenager.
Did you know that…
- before Mary was seen as the mother of all,
- before the countless devotions of Mary spread throughout the world,
- before she was crowned the Queen of heaven,
- before statues, shrines, and paintings were created in her honor,
- even before she gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God,
… Mary was an ordinary young girl who heard an angel say something amazing to her?
The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
She was a very young girl
- probably about 13-14, the age when betrothals commonly were made
- from a small, insignificant town
- with good Jewish parents
In her own words she was a nobody… and through an angel, God was asking her to take part in something beyond her ability or comprehension.
“How can this be?” She asked.
- Like any of us in that situation, Mary was unsure.
- Like any of us, Mary was afraid.
- Like any of us, Mary sought wisdom and refuge with family and friends.
As we remember the startling annunciation and her subsequent visitation, let us not forget Mary is not yet recognized as the exalted Mother from on high that we so often celebrate.
She was simply a faithful member of a Jewish community trying to find her way through the normal difficulties of growing up. At least in the way she understood herself at the time, she was just someone like everyone else, faced with a big task. Just like you and me.
God looked on her in her ordinariness
Remembering all this, a different title for Mary comes alive for me: sister. In her humanity, she was first of all our sister. Mary was not yet a queen on her throne to be revered and looked up to.
She was one of us who walked with faith and trust in God, very human with gifts and a unique personality.
When I think of this I am reminded that her experience is so very much like our own. When she said yes in the ordinariness of a Palestinian teenager, she did in the most significant and literal of ways— carrying and making God present in history— what we are also supposed to do in our own lives. She, and we, are called to be Christ-bearers.
I am reminded that saying yes to God is not always an easy or safe task, but it can be done. It should be done. Mary, our sister, shows us so.
- It is wonderful that we can rejoice in her song “Magnificat”– God has looked on me in my ordinariness.
- It is wonderful that we can marvel at her courage and generosity to travel on foot (alone?) somewhere between 80 and 120 miles depending on which route to visit her cousin.
But that was Mary 2000 years ago!
A modern echo of her Magnificat
I was awakened to another reality recently when, as part of a series of video series in which ordinary people of today explore where they see Christ, Mary Nordhal shared what I consider a profound echo of her Magnificat.
I invite you to view this new Mom’s 2-minute insight in seeing Christ in her newborn. Her simplicity is so powerful as she shares with us.
The text of Mary Nordhal’s echo…
A modern version of the magnificat
My name is Mary and this is my story.
I’m a new Mom! This is something I have dreamed of since I was ten.
The challenge came when she was newborn.
Everyone will tell you as you walk into the grocery store… are you ready for this, the sleepless nights?
Yes, I am! It’s a season of life… it’s fleeting, it will come and go.
But when you are in the thick of it it’s a challenge!
And two hours… every two hours she’s waking, she’s crying, this and that.
Four weeks into motherhood I read this book… and it’s called Your Vocation of Love.
And so I am flipping through the pages and it’s reminding me of how I can make motherhood a spiritual exercise.
And one of the powerful things I read in that book is that our purpose in life is to know, love and serve God.
And I have been called to the vocation of motherhood. So that is my purpose. To know love and serve God as Mom.
So when I was lying in bed and I heard Lilly crying at 2 AM
I didn’t just hear Lilly crying, I heard God crying asking me to love him and to serve him.
And so as I walked into her room and her little arms were flailing about and she was crying I comforted my Lord by comforting my daughter.
With every small act of saying yes I am brought that much closer to him in motherhood.
Taking is a step further, when Mary traveled to help her cousin, at an instinctive level, Mary realized that in supporting Elizabeth she was supporting God.
How can this be…
- When I look at the homeless person holding the cardboard sign?
- When I am in the presence of a person who gets under my skin?
- When I experience people who do not look or think like me?
PS. There is a reproduction of this work of art in the collection of the Marian Museum house at the Central Association of the Miraculous Medal.