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quod pro nobis traditum est

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Mary's blessedness, a good thing for us

This week the vast majority of Christians in the world will be reminded of the genealogy of Mary and Jesus. Both the Western Church and the Eastern Church recognize the Blessed Virgin's Conception, on the 8th and 9th, respectively. Most in the protestant tradition, heirs of the reformation, will not even notice. There may rise some reactions here and there to the Catholic understanding of the Immaculate Conception or how any emphasis on Mary may sidetrack us from Christmas. Otherwise, these are days like any other.

Sometimes our reactions get in the way. The very Word we uphold brings us to pause and marvel at the greater realities. We appreciate Mary's humility before the Angel Gabriel when she says, "Let it be to me according to your word," especially after she hears unbelievable things about how the birth and naming of Jesus would come about. Certainly, this is something of divine action and power. This is the word of the Lord.

What of Mary's birth? We know little. Yet her birth is part of the greater plan in the birth of Him who was and is incarnate, a divine genealogy. My tradition might question the immaculate conception of Mary yet Jesus' birth demonstrates that nothing is outside His power, "and holy is His Name."

Therefore, in terms of appreciating what God is doing through Mary, the debate tends to distract. It is a worthy debate but not one for me to pursue here and now. Rather, what is it that draws attention to Mary as the "Blessed Virgin," "Our Lady," and the "Theotokos?" Here again we return to the words of the angel, "Rejoice, highly favored one, [or "Hail, full of grace,"], the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!"

Leave it to the mysterious grace and mercy of God to regard the low estate of His handmaiden and then to have her called blessed by all generations. This is not a post-reformation contest between Mary and Jesus but a recognition of ongoing greater realities at work in the genealogy of Mary and God's only begotten Son.

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