Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Mary, the First One in the Gospels

Reflecting on the Blessed Virgin Mary makes us ponder how she related with her son Jesus. I have a postulation about Mary in the gospels. “Mary is the first one”. I will try to expound this phrase.

She was the first one to be evangelized by the good news proclaimed by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1: 26-38). She was the first one to make this child the centre of her life and the first one to hear his name. She was also the first to repeat in spontaneous longing, what any mother whispers to the infant she carries in her womb. Devotion to the name of Jesus sprang from her lips.

She was the first one to say yes to Jesus. Her yes was a prelude to the endless series of “yeses” starting with Joseph’s yes, Peter’s, the beloved disciple’s, a yes that was to have a ripple effect from generation to generation, through centuries and across all nations, tongues and cultures, touching our hearts and evoking our yes today. As the hymn goes “thank you mother Mary for that Yes of our redemption.”

Mary is the first through whom Jesus came to experience the sweetness of being loved in his humanity; she embraced him in maternal love; through her own humanity she offered to the son of God the dearest love it possessed, the love of a very young mother. Jesus knew that love until his very death, and he knows it still through our love, we who are his disciples.

Mary was also the first missionary. She hastened from Nazareth to Ain Kari, (Luke 1:39) carrying Jesus along a manmade road to the family of John the Baptist. Through Elizabeth, this family proclaimed the first total profession of Christian faith, acknowledging the son of Mary as Lord or rather “my Lord” (Luke 1:40-45). All true Christians address Jesus in this way: you are my Lord. Mary’s steps foreshadowed those of Peter, Paul, Francis Xavier, Mapeera, Amans and many other Missionaries of Africa who, by carrying Jesus in their hearts, have witnessed to Christ. Missionaries of yesterday, today and tomorrow all follow in the steps of the young mother of Jesus.

When acknowledged by the unborn John the Baptist, Mary’s response was the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) a hymn that from the beginning to end sets God, in his love, at the center of the history of humanity. This hymn is the first great canticle of praise in all the gospels, issued from the heart and lips of Mary, the humble servant.   
She was the first one to keep in her heart all what was said about her son: and Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart (Luke 2:19).

At Cana she is the first person named, and is the first one to bring a human problem to Jesus (John 2:1-11). She knew him, and she believed in him.

Mary was the first to hurry to Jesus when it was said that he was out of his mind (Mark 3:20-21.31-35). She led the extended family to Jesus, concerned and seeking the truth. A good lesson is when Jesus is the source of scandal for us; he is the first one we should seek.

Mary was the first one to suffer in the shadow of the cross (Luke 2:34-35). Thus Mary, who shares her son’s blessings, also participates in his suffering and death. In John’s gospel, she is also the first one standing at the foot of the cross. There she becomes the first one united to the beloved disciple, initiating a new family established by the dying Lord.

Finally, she was the first one to be welcomed into the home of the beloved disciple, making it her home and her family (John 19:25-27).

It goes without saying that Mary is the first and greatest witness of the incarnation, birth and death of Jesus. She was present throughout the human life of Jesus and is the greatest witness to his humanity. So Mary dedicated herself completely to her son. Being the first Christian, she was also the first person consecrated to her son. Can we not love and imitate her? Should we not ask her to help us to be taken over by the Lord and proclaim him? Mary lived a life of reflection. Does she not desire that all of her children did the same?

Kibira Martin