A World of Terror Needs the Mary of Advent

Mary, the mother of Jesus. In the Christian tradition, my tradition, she is rightly honored as the theotokos, the bearer of God. Unfortunately, Mary is far too often white-washed into an American picture of a submissive woman, a passive agent in the Christmas story otherwise dominated by men and single-mindedly focused on a male child. However, Mary should be seen as one of the ultimate heroes of our Christian faith.

It was Mary,  knowing the possible consequences of her suspicious pregnancy (The Virgin Mary on Trial), who said “Yes” to God’s outrageous and dangerous plan of salvation. May we have her courageous obedience.

It was Mary who bore a child whose status, even as an infant, caused her to flee to Egypt as a refugee. It was Mary who braved and survived the brutal slaughter and savage man(child)-hunt of a megalomaniac “king.” May we have her brave endurance.

It was Mary who stood up in a world of injustice and loudly declared that the Lord was going to topple the powers that be, exalt the lowly, send the rich away and fill the hungry. Her Magnificat, the first and oldest Advent hymn, is a political and social subversive celebration that the justice of God was now powerfully breaking into the evil world of injustice. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer recognized, her hymn is “the most passionate, most vehement, one might say, most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung. It is not the gentle, sweet, dreamy Mary that we so often see portrayed in pictures, but the passionate, powerful, proud, enthusiastic Mary, who speaks here. None of the sweet, sugary, or childish tones that we find so often in our Christmas hymns, but a hard, strong, uncompromising song of bringing down rulers from their thrones and humbling the lords of this world, of God’s power and of the powerlessness of men.” May we have her subversive orientation to the work of God’s Kingdom coming through Christ and the Holy Spirit.

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