Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Is Mary My Mother?

Yesterday's extremely bland post made the obvious observation that Mary was a disciple of her son. But is she particularly outstanding among all of Jesus' disciples?

She was a witness of more crucial events in salvation history than most--the only witness to the incarnation, for one thing. Then she also witnessed the crucifixion, resurrection, and Pentecost. The apostles are outstanding among Jesus' disciples; they are also witnesses of the resurrection--but they received a commission from Jesus for this task. Did Mary receive any commission?

The Gospel of John seems to narrate a commission for Mary. At the cross, Jesus installs Mary as the mother of the beloved disciple (John 19:25-27). Two fourth-century Church Fathers, Ambrose and Augustine, see more in this episode, however. They interpret it as Jesus installing Mary as the mother of all the atoned. As John is given to Mary as son, so are all who believe.

Mother Mary? This is the part where Protestants are supposed to recoil in horror. It's actually not that much of a stretch. The New Testament calls Abraham the father of all who believe, because believers follow in his footsteps in trusting God (Gal 3:6-7). Like Abraham, Mary believed God, and God blessed the entire world through her seed. If he can be called father, might she not be called mother?

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