Mary of Nazareth is the strongest woman I know.
At the awkward age of fourteen, God’s messenger arrives at her home with a marriage proposal. She dutifully accepts, not at all sure what she got herself into. Barely giving herself enough time to say goodbye to her parents (not to mention her fiancé) she leaves for the hill country to tend to Elizabeth. Months into her pregnancy and showing, she returns. Imagine the gossip. Imagine how her pristine reputation now destroyed. It makes sense that Joseph wanted to divorce her quietly—who would want to walk into such an unsure situation?
I am not verse in Feminist Theology by any means–so if I end up putting my foot in my mouth, I won’t be surprised. (And if anyone would like to correct me, I’m happy to receive such a correction over coffee–I would rather have it be a coffee appointment so we can talk rather than a blasted email.) There is a strain that claims that Mary was oppressed by God and her Son, saying that she was put in her place by being forced into domestic roles; that somehow, Mary she is the model of the petite, shy and demure wife who obeys everything that an abusive husband will order. In my reading of scripture…this makes no sense.
This is the woman who—knowing that she was risking her life—stood at the foot of the cross of her criminal son. She stayed in the Upper Room surrounded by terrified men who acted like boys. She was the manifestation of fidelity when the Twelve (understandably) ran away. There is nothing weak about this. If anything, she was stronger than all the world, and by human standards, slightly crazy.
For her stout-hearted fidelity, her Son assumed her to heaven and sat her right next to Him, crowning her with glory and praise.
Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us!
Cause of Our Joy, pray for us!
(originally published in the bulletin for Advent)