Mary, Our Example
On August 15th, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It stands to reason that Mary became the example of the reward offered to all faithful followers of Jesus. We believe that faithful followers of Christ will be glorified by Christ. Mary is used to offer us a vision of the glory to come. She has already been glorified and raised to impress upon us what God offers to us all. The Assumption is not a new belief. It was believed by Christians from day one.
Mary accepted a special place in the hearts of the early Christians. She was Jesus’ mother, but the early Christians also described her as Jesus’ first disciple. By the time the Gospels were written, she had become a model of Christian discipleship. Luke therefore presents Mary as a symbol of the things God has done for us and what our response to God should be.
The story of Mary and Elizabeth was not fashioned by Luke to be an historical account of their meeting: he used it to demonstrate how a Christian should react to the blessings of God. Elizabeth’s greeting was not a statement about a baby yet to be born. What she declared, “Blessed is the fruit of your womb, “ Elizabeth was not speaking about an unborn baby, but of the consequences of the Resurrection. Luke, at the very beginning of his Gospel, is giving us a taste of what is to come.
Luke, in speaking of the consequences of the resurrection, gives us the Magnificat, one of the most beautiful hymns of Scripture. With it Luke teaches us about being a disciple. Mary spoke of being a lowly servant. For Luke, lowliness is an objective condition. To be lowly is to be poor. God has looked upon the poor and so must we!
It should be no surprise that the Gospels would borrow the person of Mary and instead of giving us hard facts about her life and history, use her instead as a symbol. Mary must have been a wonderful woman who was gentle and humble of heart. She sought to serve God and, used as a symbol, she continues to serve her Son in our day.
Mary made it clear she did nothing on her own to be called “blessed.” As far as she was concerned, it was God’s action in her life that made her “blessed.” Mary’s response was to be a servant and today this model is ours. We are called to serve. Luke suggests we are to side with the poor. As a consequence, what God has done for Mary is something God promised to do for us.
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