love and should be received as a gift from heaven.
She was also a real mother who was privileged to, (along with Joseph), raise the One who lived within her for nine months after He was born. In her presence and with her human influence, the biblical texts tell us He “grew in wisdom and stature” in His Sacred humanity.
For these reasons alone, is it any wonder that Christians for 2000 years have been captivated by the implications of her life? Perhaps in continued reaction to perceived excesses in focus on her in the past, there has been a tendency to downplay the role of Mary in the plan of salvation that is the heart of the Christian revelation. This is unfortunate on many fronts.
The vocation or call of Mary was no "ordinary" vocation. The late great Bishop Sheen (the first "televangelist") once put it this way: "if you were God and you could choose your mother, how good would you choose her?” This was an effort by the Bishop to respond to the assertion in some Christian circles (perhaps in reaction against what has been perceived as an “overemphasis by Catholics on the importance of Mary) that she was not significant at all.
The good bishop was correct. She was chosen from among all women. She was “highly favored” or “full of grace”, the scriptures tell us the Angel proclaimed upon that visit that changed her life (and our own) she was “blessed among women.” But in another way, her life was very ordinary. Perhaps that is why we fail to look more closely. We have a difficult time grasping the truth that the ordinary can be extraordinary. This little ordinary woman, virgin and mother has inspired the greatest and holiest Saints throughout Christian history.
For example, when one probes the lives of Augustine of Hippo, Bernard of Clairveaux, Therese of Liseux, the late Theresa of Calcutta and so many others within the Christian tradition, including Martin Luther, one finds a common love for and devotion to Mary.
Were they in error? Or are we perhaps missing something? Are we living in a “Mary moment”?
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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