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January 1

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Solemnity of Mary


Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.
Luke 2:16-21

We know very little about Miriam of Nazareth as an actual historical person. In this she is in solidarity with the multitudes of women through the centuries, especially poor women and poor men, whose lives are considered not worth recording. We must also be respectful of her historical difference from us in time and place. She is a first-century Jewish woman; she is not a 21st-century American. 

As a member of the people of Israel, Mary inherited the Jewish faith in one living God, stemming from Abraham and Sarah onwards. She prayed to a God who heard the cry of the poor, freed the enslaved Hebrews and brought them into their covenant relationship. Mary lived in a Mediterranean rural village, Nazareth, whose population consisted largely of peasants working the land and craftsmen who served their basic needs. Married to the local carpenter, she took care of the household. Mary walked by faith, not by sight. Scripture tells us she asked questions. She pondered things in her heart. And she went on faithfully believing even when grief stabbed her to the heart. She had a relationship with God that was profound.

Though Mary was poor and lowly, and a culturally insignificant woman, the powerful living holy God was doing great things to her. And God does this not only to her but to all the poor: bringing down the mighty from their thrones; exalting the lowly; filling the hungry with good things and sending the unrepentant rich away empty. And all of this was happening in fulfillment of the ancient promise—and in her very being. For she embodied the nobodies of this world on whom God lavishes rescue. With a heart full of love for God and for her neighbor, Mary of Nazareth gives us a tremendous example of walking by faith through a difficult life.

We remember Mary as a friend of God and prophet in the communion of saints. Let her dangerous memory inspire and encourage our own witness.

Adapted from Elizabeth Johnson, Truly Our Sister


Holy Mary pray for us.


Read Truly Our Sister by Elizabeth Johnson or some recent theological articles about Mary about Mary ( In Search of the Real Mary).

Suggested Reading

And they came with haste; and they found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. And seeing, they understood of the word that had been spoken to them concerning this child. And all that heard, wondered; and at those things that were told them by the shepherds. But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. And after eight days were accomplished, that the child should be circumcised, his name was called Jesus, which was called by the angel, before he was conceived in the womb.
Luke 2:16-21

Whenever we look to Mary, we come to believe once again in the revolutionary nature of love and tenderness. In her we see that humility and tenderness are not virtues of the weak but of the strong who need not treat others poorly in order to feel important themselves.
Pope Francis

Mary is truly our sister, who as a poor and humble woman fully shared our lot.
Pope Paul VI

Remembering Mary as a friend of God and prophet in the communion of saints, a woman who is truly sister to our strivings, allows the power of her life to play in the religious consciousness of the church, encouraging ever-deeper relationship with the living God in whom our spirits rejoice, and allying us with God’s redemptive designs for the hungry, the lowly, and all those who suffer, including in an unforgettable way women with their children in situations of poverty, prejudice, and violence.
Elizabeth Johnson

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was of most modest circumstances, yet she knew well her responsibility and took joy in it.
Ezra Taft Benson

Mary is what it looks like to believe that we already are who God says we are.
 Nadia Bolz-Weber

Much of what we find in the eyes of Jesus must first have been in the eyes of Mary. The mother’s vision is powerfully communicated to her children. Mary had to be his first spiritual director, the one who humanly gave a life vision to Jesus, who taught Jesus how to believe and how to feel his feelings. What was in Jesus’s eyes was somehow first in hers. 
Richard Rohr