Another Advent season has begun. The time when we are to prepare for the birth of Jesus, and yet another Sunday where the point of the Annunciation to Mary of Nazareth by the angel Gabriel was missed. Within the Protestant tradition we have a tendency to short shift Mary and her role, we reduce her to nothing more than the test tube or incubator for Jesus, but her role was far more active than that.
Just think about this young girl barely into her menstruation, barely a teenager. Having sat there while her father cut a business deal with Joseph to purchase her (where the idea of Bride Price comes from). Having witnessed the brutality of the Roman Empire, the occupiers of her people. Where girls her age (or any age) were nothing more than property to the soldiers. Not full citizens, they could take and rape them with immunity. If pregnancy happened, even just the losing of their hymen, made them unclean and a shame for their families.
Families that then had choices to either redeem fully their honour through stoning (honour killing) or to put the issue a way quietly just outside the city gates where the lepers, beggars, and sex trade workers existed… a fate that would rapidly end in death by violence, exposure, or sexually transmitted disease. The problem was more compounded once the bride price, or the deal had been made, because now it dishonoured two families. This was the struggle Joesph worked through in the Gospel of Matthew before the Angel Gabriel visited him in a vision.
But we come back to Mary as the Angel Gabriel comes to her (with no back story on how many girls heard this same offer before Mary and said no because they understood the horror of the stigma they were taking upon themselves). Mary stands there, knowing she was no longer her father’s property, but not completely Joseph’s yet (the contract made, but not yet consummated). Mary a young girl who probably bore witness to the execution of other girls dishonoured by the Romans (neigh raped) or disfigured or cast out… the struggles of the widow, the divorcee, the adulteress in this patriarchal culture that reduced the usefulness of a woman to nothing more than her ability to produce male heirs to her male masters.
A young girl who had never been treated as an equal. A young girl who had never had her opinion asked for, or even if it mattered. Yet here was God sending his messenger directly to her, not to Joseph or her Father, but directly to the non-citizen in both nations she existed in (Rome and Israel). And it was in this shocking, counter culture movement of empowerment, where Mary said the yes that began the shaking of the normative oppression. The yes that began the transformation of 51% of humanity from the shadows to equals (and still is continuing). The yes that a young woman for the first time firmly took her life and her life’s call as her own. Blessed among women, Mary was blessed among humanity. A simple step of faith to prove what humanity views as impossible is simply how it is to be.
But we do what her culture did, we tend to relegate Mary to nothing more than a voiceless incubator.
Yet, the story of God and Mary is one of voice and empowerment of the complete image of God.
- Wonder: Hormones and Ham, Misunderstanding and the Messiness of Christmas (everydayawe.com)
- Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C (preachingthenewlectionary.com)
- Olive trees and Nazareth (holylandmission2012.wordpress.com)
- Creche (part 2) (plymouthcongregationalchurch.wordpress.com)
- Ancient Mysteries – Re: Shocking Archaeology Discovery: Jesus Was A Girl! female (disclose.tv)
- Mary, a Mom (donnagiftnew.wordpress.com)
- The Rosary, “Luke on a chain” (newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.com)
- “The Mystery of the Annunciation is the Mystery of Grace” by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (insightscoop.typepad.com)
- Third Book in Joseph Ratzinger’s Trilogy: “The Infancy Narratives” (parchment9.wordpress.com)
- Day 2 – Mary’s Well – Nazareth, Israel (travelpod.com)