Today is the feast day of Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin. Some might think that it is about darn time that a blog called Maryology had something to say about this particular Mary. And, of course, I do.
As a Mary, I have grown up feeling a little weird about Mary of Nazareth. Maybe some of you non-Marys have had the same experience. She always seems so aloof when depicted in art, all alone and stone cold. In hymns and sermons she can come off as simultaneously superhuman and inhuman–a role model that is impossible to emulate. A lot of it has to do with the emphasis on her virginity, her purity. The untouched and untouchable mother. A contradiction.
Perhaps I should have just focused on the Mary in the Bible, because there she is not alone or cold at all. The biblical stories about Mary tell us about a woman–a girl in the beginning, really–who is never alone. She is with angels, her cousin Elizabeth, Joseph, shepherds, wise men, animals, children, and all the ragtag followers of her son, Jesus. Luke tells us she gave birth in a barn, for goodness sake.
Becoming a mother myself made me think about her in a new way–there is really nothing very aloof or pure about giving birth or raising a child. There is a reason the Magnificat comes BEFORE the nativity. But what really thaws my feelings about Mary of Nazareth, is thinking about her as a middle aged woman (well, in her day late 40s might have been old age) following her 30 year-old son around the country as he preached and healed and taught. Walking for miles and miles on the dusty road with the disciples is not much at all like being perched on a pedestal. Neither is watching the execution of your child. It might have made her feel isolated, but at Jesus’ crucifixion Mary was not alone. She was with his other followers, all supporting one another and no one knowing what would happen next.
As I induct her into the Hall of Marys, I am kind of glad that I waited this long to have Mary of Nazareth join this illustrious group of women. It wouldn’t have been right to have her there all by herself.