Wednesday, 1 May 2013
There's Something About Mary
Happy May Day! The month of May is traditionally a time for celebrating Our Lady.
And there's a lot to celebrate. Sadly people have sometimes misunderstood devotion to Mary, which is a deeply traditional and ancient part of Christian practice, thinking that it somehow 'distracts' from a focus on Jesus. On the contrary, devotion to Mary points to Jesus, reminding us that, though her, God genuinely became a human being, taking our flesh in Jesus. This man is truly God; and so this woman is truly God's Mother.
Mary, who we ask to pray for us, reminds us of the communal nature of Christianity. It is not all about 'me and God' - we are (as our politicians are fond of saying) all in it together. We support each other by our prayers, and Mary - the first to accept Christ - is a particularly potent sign of the praying Church.
Mary, taken up into glory, reminds us of our destiny. Human beings are not created for death. We are called to share one day in the Easter life which Mary shares already with her Son.
Mary, who co-operated with God's work of redemption, reminds us that we are called to do likewise. God does not treat us as puppets. He longs for a free, loving, response from us.
In these, and many other ways, Mary points to important truths about our redemption in Christ. The orthodox Christian vision of the world is one for which the created, material world is good, and has been glorified by the Incarnation. It is one in which God respects our humanity, working with it and alongside it, rather than over and against it. Those times in Christian history where there has been opposition to honouring Mary have also been times where one or more of these truths has been questioned.