In church on Sunday we had a visit from Bishop Alberto Morales, of the Diocese of Quincy, who came and gave a sermon on Mary.
As a Protestant, I was raised not thinking about her much. Not that all Protestants don't think about Mary, but in the churches in which I was raised, she was trotted out at Christmas - gently holding a baby, quietly wrapped in a blue and white shawl. Sometimes we saw her at Easter, just to the side of the cross, looking sad. If we saw her elsewhere it was because Jesus was telling her to go away or that it was not His time yet. If the Roman Catholic Church had gone too far one way by deifying her, we were certainly going to provide balance and go too far the other way.
Now as I've grown during Bible study, and become a mother, I've felt myself wishing to have known more. I've found myself wondering how she might have felt, watching her son up on a cross.
Sunday, Bp. Morales began with Mary's discussion with Gabriel. Which began with a "how" and ended up with a "Let it be unto me"...and he proceeded through to Jesus' testing moment in the Garden of Gethsemane. From His request that, if it were possible to "let this cup pass"...to His "let it be".... How neatly it was tied together, how Mary had influenced Jesus. Years of being taught to discount her, as if she'd never existed, are being quietly questioned, assumptions are being shaken and often laid aside.
For years I've struggled with how some people prefer Mary over Jesus. How she's related to by both men and women, and why people would pray to her. A parent of one of my friends told me once that he prayed to Mary instead of Jesus. Didn't want to bother "the Big Guy," and he liked Mary better. I still don't understand how one could see her as being co-equal, but I'm getting how and why people love her so much.
Because if you love Jesus, his mother has to be a part of that. And you can't put aside the one who held and loved him as a baby, who watched and remembered, and who stood, unable to save him, as he died. You can't put aside her influence on His humanity - anymore than you can refrain from chuckling when you hear something you've said come out of your kid's mouth. That's when it really strikes you - the influence, for better or worse, that we have on our children is immense. And her's wasn't less so. Not if Jesus was fully human. It couldn't have been.
I know there are a lot of books written about Mary. I'm not sure I'm interested in those. I'm focused right now on reading the gospels and seeing Mary through the single lens of Scripture.
What I found lovely about Sunday's sermon, apart from the sermon itself, was the timing. As I've been delving into the gospel of John, I've been coming to terms (an ongoing thing, I'm afraid) with the humanity of Jesus. I find myself quick to look at Him as God, rather than as man. Looking at His mother, thinking about the influence she'd have had on Him, and seeing the parallels between her conversation with Gabriel and His with His Father, well, very cool week for the brain.