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The Virgin Mary

Author: H.E. Bishop Bawai Soro


"The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God."

Luke 1:35
Virgin Mary

Among the saints whom the Church acknowledges and honors, no one holds a place of greater honor than the Blessed Virgin Mary. The mother of Jesus has been accorded many titles throughout the ages, she is "the Handmaid of the Father", "the Mother of the Son of God", and "the Temple of the Holy Spirit" (Lk. 1:38; Lk. 1:30-35). But, perhaps the most simple and meaningful titles are none other than "virgin and mother." A virgin, she dedicated her life completely to God. A mother, she gave the Savior to the world.

As a young woman betrothed to Joseph, Mary learned from the angel Gabriel that she was chosen from among all women to become the mother of the long-expected Messiah. With deep humility and acceptance of God's will for her and the human race, she said yes. She conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit, without the intervention of a man, and the Church teaches that she remained a virgin throughout her lifetime. Indeed, the creed mentions her by name: Jesus "became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and became man; he was conceived and born of the Virgin Mary."

During her earthly life, Mary was present at significant moments in the life of her Son Jesus, but her presence was not noted as others. Naturally she figures greatly when Jesus was conceived and later born, and when he was presented according to the Law in the Temple for his circumcision. (Luke 2:22-35) When as a 12-year old boy he was "lost" for three days in Jerusalem, sitting with the doctors of Judaism and asking them questions, Mary and Joseph sought him in sorrow, and it became clear that they did not yet understand the fullness of his mission. (Luke 2:46-50)

In the New Testament, periodically Mary appears in episodes of Jesus' life during his ministry, such as at the wedding in Cana, where he performed his first public miracle. (John 2:1ff) She is referred to when people are speaking of him: "Is not his mother named Mary?" (Matthew 13:55) At the Last Supper, she is not mentioned, but we can't imagine she was far away. During his trial, she was possibly one of the people drowned out by the mob. On his way to execution, she was surely along the road. At the crucifixion, she is there with a few women and one disciple. (John 19:25-26)

Near the end of his suffering, as death approached, Jesus made sure his mother would be cared for, in an age not terribly kind to widows and orphans. From the Cross, he entrusted his mother into the care of the disciple whom he loved. "Woman," he said, "behold, your son." To the disciple, "Behold, your mother." (John 19:26-27) As mother and son, Mary and the beloved disciple are seen to be forming the first Christian family, thus, the Church is also entrusted to Mary's motherly care.

Nevertheless, some Christians have downplayed the importance of Mary's role in the economy of salvation. They rightly emphasize the central role of Jesus the Redeemer, as the Catholic teaching does, yet miss the significance of what Mary has done on behalf of the human race. Where Adam and Eve said "no" when God invited them to trust completely in him, Mary said "yes" for all of us. She gave flesh to the Savior, teaching him the faith of his ancestors and helping him, as a human being, to learn and grow in God's grace. (cf. Luke 2:40) It is no exaggeration to say that without Mary, God's work of salvation would not have been brought to completion. Fortunately for all, she was prepared and willing to accept God's will for her.

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