And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
December 18, 2020, Words By: Lina Thompson, Image By: Unknown
She was a high-school senior. She told me she wasn’t feeling well and asked if I could give her a ride to the hospital. As we pulled up to the front entrance, I started to get out of the car, but she asked me to wait. Sometime later, she emerged from the hospital and climbed into the front seat. I was kind of oblivious (great youth worker!). I asked her if everything was ok.
She was quiet for awhile and then said, “I’m pregnant.”
I had a front row seat to this beautiful young woman’s life. I saw her battle feelings of fear, shame and weariness while always presenting a resolve to persevere. I marveled at her “rising” to the occasion, especially as it became clear she was preparing herself to be a solo parent.
She worked a part-time job at the senior citizens home and navigated the bureaucracy of public assistance, putting her own dreams on hold. She graduated in June, then delivered a baby in August.
I also observed a community of girlfriends and women in her life rallying around her, celebrating her strength and resilience, even when she couldn’t see it in herself. They celebrated her divine gift of birthing life from her body.
I wonder, why don’t we talk more about the humanity of Mary in this same way? She must have experienced some of the same trauma and emotional upheaval, not to mention all the biological changes in her young body as she carried life within her. I can imagine Mary holding the shame of scandal, fear and anxiety while simultaneously singing “my soul magnifies the Lord;” as a matter of practice, women throughout history have learned to hold that kind of tension. I bet she also had a community of girlfriends and women who came around her, because solidarity has often meant survival for women. Maybe Eiizabeth threw her a baby shower.
Who was she?
I learned a new term today—Mariologists; those who study Mary. My friend, Joyce delRosario, is a Mariologist. Her work challenges me to think deeply about the specificity of Mary. From a sociological point of view, there was nothing special, notable or exceptional about this teenage girl. God came to us through a human being who described herself as a lowly servant girl. What more might we learn about the humanity of God through the humanity of his mother?
Lets face it, we really need new ways of seeing God and learning Jesus. When patriarchy becomes the only lens through which we understand our faith in Christ, we miss the full picture. Mary offers us both the feminine story and the female body that carried and birthed God’s love into the world. She is an indispensable window into understanding the depths through which God comes to us.
In response to all that the angel Gabriel discloses to Mary, she says this: “May everything you have said about me come true.”
This is a statement of trust, faith and hope. I have uttered these same words as if to say, “You believe in me way more than I believe in myself.” It’s nice to know that Jesus’ mom and I have something in common. May everything, every word that God has said about who we are and Whose we are come true.
This Advent season, I will celebrate Jesus for sure. And I am going to celebrate his mama—for all that she was in the fullness of her humanity. This actually makes Jesus more real to me—not less. As I make room for Jesus, I want to make room for her too.