For centuries the eastern and western churches have considered Mary, the Virgin Mother of Jesus, pre-eminent among all the saints.
In the gospels, Mary makes her first appearance as a teenager. Nothing is known of her childhood, and what we do know of her is found mostly in Matthew, chapters 1-2 and in Luke, chapters 1-2. If you read both accounts, you’ll notice that Luke’s account seems to give the story from Mary’s standpoint, whereas Matthew concentrates more on Joseph’s side of things. In both accounts the virginal conception of Christ is clearly stated. Mary’s quiet devotion to God and her total acceptance of His will shine forth.
Her visit to Elizabeth, when both were pregnant, is a moving and poignant account of two humble, ordinary women, suddenly caught up in a great event that would shape world history. Their trusting faith in God and acceptance of His will, shine through.
After Jesus is born, Mary fades into the background, and makes few appearances: when the family visits Jerusalem and she loses her son on the way home; when she urges Him to help the wedding party in Cana with its wine problem; and when Jesus gives her into the keeping of the beloved disciple when He is dying on the cross. Mary’s last appearance is in Acts chapter 1, just before Pentecost.
Mary obviously joined the early Church, but her role was never one of teaching and preaching, and indeed she remained so much in the background that nothing more about her is known for certain. Both Ephesus and Jerusalem have claimed to be the place of her death.
Mary, chosen to be the mother of Jesus Christ, one who is both God and Man, holds a unique place in the history of mankind. Down the centuries that have followed, the Church has paid special honour to Mary; and well deserved it is. “All generations shall call me blessed …”
The feature image for this post is ‘Mary Visits Elizabeth’, unknown German artist, Bergen Kunstmuseum (Wikicommons, P.D.).