Sunday, 9 May 2010

Queen of the Holy Ordinary

It’s Mother’s Day today in America and through some of my friends, I received Happy Mothers Day wishes - which I have gratefully accepted, two Mother’s Days a year seems like a very good idea to me.

One of the good wishes was a prayer of blessing –from the Queen of the Holy Ordinary – Mary herself. A title that delighted me; because it reminds me of why Mary is so important to me.

There is very little about Mary in the Gospels; how much do we need to know about the girl that became the Mother of God? There are some who believe that her only duty was to be the human ‘incubator’ and there is nothing else to thank her for. If this is the case, Jesus may as well have sprung fully formed, like Venus, from the sea. There is a lot more to motherhood than incubation!

We have come to understand about the courage that Mary needed to say that first ‘yes’. How the culture and tradition of the time could have meant her death, or at least exile, there and then. This was not going to be a fairytale or a girlish dream of being whisked away to a castle and a life of ease.

This ‘yes’ was stepping off a cliff with the faith that God would catch her; accepting a life she had not imagined; taking a path with no signposts. Mary put herself in God’s hands – Your will be done – and her Son makes the same surrender in the Garden of Tears.

When Mary speaks the Magnificat to her cousin Elizabeth; you can’t help but wonder where these words came from; hardly the turn of phrase of a young peasant girl. It’s a reminder that God is still with her; she speaks the words that will change the world order; that will challenge tradition; that will lead to the Kingdom; this is the faith she will teach her Son.

Mary, the Mother of God challenges all expectation; that God would speak to a woman; that God would lie helpless in her arms; that God would live as one with the poor and the outcast; that God would bring mercy and not judgment; that it is the lowly that are blessed. When Jesus speaks the Beatitudes – he speaks the faith of his mother as well as the Will of his Father.

Mary influences Jesus’ life as any mother does, in word and action; in the little things. That he is good with children; that he is considerate with women; that he notices the widow and beggar; that hospitality is important; that people need to eat; that we should not be afraid. His humanity reflects the courage and humility that was hers. And his pride and trust in her gives him the confidence to leave us in her hands; children who need to be cared for as he was.

The Marriage Feast is my favourite dialogue between the two– a real mother; a real son - with all the eyebrow raising, tutting and deep sighs that is nuanced behind these few words. A dialogue that moves God from a being who was beyond the ordinary to a man who is in the thick of it. And the best line of all - ‘Do as he tells you’.

That is Mary’s role now. Having accepted the mantle of Mother, Mary asks us to listen to her Son and to say ‘Yes’. And to do it in our own daily lives; in practical and compassionate ways; with the people we love and those we don’t; to show mercy and to be peacemakers; to live by Love and not by Law.

Mothers don’t do that from a pedestal but through being a living example and loving presence in all that we do. I am sure that Mary is Queen in Heaven but she is worth far more to us as a family as Queen of the Holy Ordinary.


with thanks to

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