Tag Archives: mary jesus’ mother

Thinking About Mary On Good Friday

 Perhaps because I am a mother myself, on Good Friday I am often preoccupied with thinking about Mary, Jesus’ mother. 

How must she have felt as they nailed her son’s hands and feet to the cross and she watched him slowly die? How would a mother feel watching that happen to her child?

Former Toronto Star columnist Michelle Landsberg writes in her book Women and Children First, “It is at the very moment we give birth, that we first begin to truly understand and fear death. ” Mary must certainly have experienced such fear for her child right from the beginning of her motherhood journey.

Rest on the Flight to Egypt- Francisco de Zubaran – 1659

She was just a young girl when she delivered her first baby after enduring the comments of those who thought it was scandalous she got pregnant before she was married. She takes her son to the temple when he is eight days old.  There a man named Simeon tells her the tribulations of her child will be “ like a sword that will pierce your soul.”  Later when Jesus is a toddler, Mary becomes a refugee because powerful people want to kill her son. To save him she flees to a place where the culture, language, and religion are completely foreign to her.

Jesus in the Temple by Heinrich Hofmann- 1881

Jesus is twelve when he is separated from his parents in the large city of Jerusalem.  Any mother who has ever lost a child in a crowd can empathize with the heart-stopping fear Mary surely experienced at that point.

Jesus Summons Matthew to Leave the Tax Office -Jan van Hemessen – 1536

Once Jesus began his ministry Mary must have lived in constant anxiety. Her thirty-year-old son does not marry or have steady employment. He wanders around with a member of a violent guerilla warfare organization. His other followers are men who have abandoned their careers and families. He travels with a tax collector and with Mary Magdalene, whose virtue is questionable. He is often seen with Joanna, a woman who has left her politically important husband, and a rich young lady named Susanna who is rumored to be squandering her fortune on Jesus.

Mary watches her son spend time with lepers, prostitutes, adulterers, dishonest government officials and those who are thought to be demon-possessed. People gossip about Jesus. Mary overhears her neighbors whisper “he has gone out of his mind.” She knows the church leaders hate her son.

Jesus Rejected in Nazareth by Jeff Watkins

Once when she goes to see him Jesus says, “Who is my mother?” as she approaches. Mary must have been hurt. Another time he is visiting at home and makes some radical and inflammatory statements in the synagogue in Nazareth . The congregation gets so mad they drive him out of the city. He narrowly escapes being pushed off a cliff. How Mary must have worried!

Igor Stoyanov’s Icon of the Wedding Feast at Cana in Galilee

Yet Mary supports her son whole-heartedly. At the Cana wedding, Jesus is hesitant to perform a miracle. “Mom why should we worry about this,” he says in John 2:4. “Do whatever my son tells you”, Mary confidently assures the servants ignoring her son’s misgivings. Jesus lives up to his mother’s absolute faith in him. He turns the water into wine. Many people’s hearts are changed as a result.

Mary and John at the Cross by Ralph Pallen Coleman

And Mary demonstrates her unconditional love for her son at the end of Jesus’ life. People are making a circus of his death. They are spitting on him, jeering and gambling with his belongings. He is hanging between two common criminals. Most of his followers have fled, denying they know him, but not his mom. She is standing right at his cross. Jesus is so moved by his mother’s loyalty that one of the last things he does before he dies is ask his best friend to look after her.

The Bible makes it clear Mary never gave up on her son. Time and time again she extended her support and care. No doubt her faith in God sustained her through the most difficult trials of motherhood.

So give a thought to Mary on this Good Friday, because sadly there are still mothers everywhere in our world who are grieving for their children’s hurt and pain. Remember too that there are also mothers everywhere who are continuing to live in hope, who like Mary, never stop loving their children unconditionally.

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She Was 13 Years Old!

 Last  Sunday I heard Irma Fast Dueck, a Canadian Mennonite University professor give a lecture about Mary, the mother of Jesus.  Irma had created a display of some of the artistic images of Mary she has collected over the years- carvings, icons, paintings, statues and a humorous gift from her son- a print maker that creates an image of Mary on your piece of toast.

public domain The Madonna of the Book by Botticelli 1480

The Madonna of the Book by Botticelli 1480

Irma said her fascination with Mary began when she was in high school and heard a speaker say that Biblical scholars believe Mary was probably twelve or thirteen years old when she gave birth to Jesus.  Irma talked to us about the audacity of God’s choice for the mother of Christ- an unmarried girl from a poor family, a teen perhaps struggling with acne and the angst of adolescence.

 Irma gave us a brief overview of the role Mary has played in the history of the Christian Church. Mary’s popularity and importance has waxed and waned as theologians and religious leaders have struggled with whether or not she should be worshiped. They have raised questions about her virginity, her possible role as an intermediary with the divine, her family background and the manner of her death.

public domainn our lady of good counsel by pasquale sarullo

Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasquale Sarullo

 I too have had a long fascination with Mary. As a teenager it could have been because her name was a part of my name, but later when I was well into my own role as a mother, Canadian songstress Rita MacNeil got me thinking about Mary again when she released her Christmas ballad Mother Mary. Some lines from the song struck such a chord with me. 

“And Mary you’ve seen hard times

And all that you’ve been through

You’ve given so much as a mother

Mary we’ll remember you.”

 Rita’s lyrics made me consider what an important role Mary had played in her son’s life and I studied the brief glimpses we have of her in the gospels. I admired the way she continued to raise her son with hope even after Simeon told her on her first temple visit with Jesus that the experience of mothering him would be “like a sword that will pierce your soul.”

When her child was a toddler she became a refugee because powerful people wanted to kill her son. Jesus was twelve when she experienced the heart stopping fear of losing him in a crowded city.  Once Jesus was an adult she must have worried because he wasn’t married or steadily employed and spent his time with rebel fighters, lepers, adulterers, dishonest government officials and people who were demon possessed. Mary knew people gossiped about her son and said he was mentally unstable. Some wanted to kill him. Once when Mary tried to see Jesus he ignored her and said, “Who is my mother?” 

 Yet Mary had faith in her son. She was the one who convinced him to perform his first miracle at the Cana wedding. She had utter confidence in him. And when he was dying on the cross she was standing right there. Jesus was so moved by his mother’s loyalty that his last act was to ask his best friend to look after her.

Christmas is a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but it should also be a time when we celebrate the love and faith of the woman who gave birth to him and mothered him.

 Irma Fast Dueck ended her talk with a beautiful quote from Thomas Merton describing Mary. 

“and God was a child curled up who slept in her and her whole being was embraced in him whom she embraced”

Other posts about Mary………

Jesus is Born

God of Eve and God of Mary

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