• on December 7, 2017

Hail Mary, Full of Rebellion – Advent Day 7

Mother of God. Immaculate Virgin. Blessed Mother. Lady of Guadalupe. Our Lady of Sorrows. Mary has received many titles over the years. However, rebel isn’t one of them.

Did you know that Mary was a rebel? Well, she probably wasn’t a rebel the way we think of rebels. She certainly wasn’t a rebel the way her parents, Adam and Eve, rebelled. In fact, her rebellion was the exact opposite of their rebellion. But there is something rebellious about her; her name.

Mary is the New Testament form of the Old Testament name Miriam. You may remember that Miriam was the sister of Moses. Miriam and Mary, the mother of Jesus, had the same name.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me.

Their name means obstinate or rebellious. Of course, no one who reads of Mary in the Gospels is left with the impression that she is rebellious, in the classic sense of the word. But I don’t think we should consider her a sweet, little wall flower just sitting around, all dainty and lady-like either. I think she was a tough cookie physically, mentally and spiritually. I don’t think history has done her justice by the way she has been portrayed in art and literature.

Her story can be found in Luke 1:26-56.

Consider the fact that, immediately upon ending her conversation with Gabriel, she jumps up and heads off to visit her cousin Elizabeth. We don’t know exactly where Elizabeth lived, besides in the “hill country of Judea,” but our best historical traditions and guesses place it anywhere between a one-day journey and 4-5 days. The bible records that she left abruptly and traveled quickly to Elizabeth’s house. This is a teenage girl traveling a great distance through the Judean hill country by herself. I think its safe to say that she doesn’t have any risk aversion issues. She doesn’t need anyone holding her hand, that’s for sure! Not to mention her journey to Bethlehem, at full-term in her pregnancy, also speaks to her toughness, as does the fact that she raised all of those boys.

The apprehension that she displays at her angelic visitation is to be expected. Anyone is going to be a little frightened by that. (The Bible doesn’t exactly portray angels like Precious Moments figurines.) Several things about her make me think of her mental/internal toughness. First, she holds her own in her dialogue with Gabriel. Though frightened, the moment doesn’t seem to be too big for her. She doesn’t seem overwhelmed by it. She keeps her wits about her and intellectually engages her otherworldly guest with sound reason.

Revelation 12 is a more mysterious and apocalyptic telling of the holy nativity. It is certainly not for the faint of heart. Mary suffered and endured greatly.

In addition, don’t forget the recurring accusation that she was pregnant out of wedlock, the prophecy of Simeon that a sword would pierce her heart, the constant pressure and confusion her Son, Jesus, put her through and standing at the foot of the Cross while He died. All of this lends support to the opinion of a woman with considerable internal fortitude.

Of course, a lot of women are tough physically and mentally. Mary was also tough spiritually. If ‘rebel’ is ever going to accurately describe Mary, it’s going to be her spiritual rebellion.

In his gospel record, Luke writes for us that the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the words, “Rejoice, favored woman. The Lord is with you.” The only people who get to hear these words are rebels for God. These words are not going to be spoken to someone who has acquiesced to the world and it’s ways. These words are not going to be spoken to someone who is trying to win the world’s approval.

These words are spoken to someone that God believes is on His side. These words are spoken to someone who doesn’t want what this world has to offer. Mary doesn’t walk to the beat of the world’s drum. She doesn’t follow the world’s precepts and principles. She’s not of this kingdom. She’s not of this world.

She lives in a constant state of rebellion against everything this world holds dear. She rejects its value system. Her allegiance is to God alone, not the political powers of Rome, or even the religious power of Jerusalem.

She does the most rebellious and hardest thing of all; she simply and humbly takes God at His word. She is told that she is going to have a baby, conceived of the Holy Ghost. Her response? ‘I am the Lord’s slave. Let it happen as you have said.’

Is Mary a rebel? I think so. Anyone living by grace through faith is living in rebellion to this world and its ruler.

J. Mauger

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