Mary is the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and as such, is the most influential woman in human history.
When she was just a teenager living in Nazareth, a town in Northern Israel, Mary said a radical and selfless ‘yes’ to God’s will for her life. In the Bible, we read that when the angel Gabriel appeared to her and told her that she would give birth to the Son of God, she responded with complete faith, saying:
‘”Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38)
Through her free choice and at that young age, Mary decided to cooperate with God’s plan. In 2019, Pope Francis described her momentous choice by saying that:
‘This was no merely passive or resigned acceptance, or a faint ‘yes’ … she knew what was at stake and she said ‘yes’ without thinking twice. Hers was the ‘yes’ of someone prepared to be committed, someone willing to take a risk.’ (Pope Francis)
Through Mary’s risk, Jesus Christ entered the world. Through a purely historical lens, Jesus of Nazareth, has arguably had a greater impact upon the way in which we live our lives today than any other historical figure and His moral teachings are upheld by many, among non-Christians as well as Christians. Histories outside of the Gospels refer to Jesus as ‘a doer of wonderful works’ and Matthew’s Gospel describes the phenomenon around Him this way:
‘His fame spread throughout Syria, and those who were suffering from diseases and painful complaints of one kind or another, the possessed, epileptics, the paralysed, were all brought to him, and He cured them all.’ (Matthew 4:24)
Mary raised Jesus Christ from childhood to adulthood and accompanied Him throughout much of His life, likely spending more time in His presence than any other person in His life. She is present at His birth, she prompts Him to begin His public ministry at the Wedding at Cana, she is there at the foot of the cross when He is crucified, and is there in the ‘upper room’ when the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples at Pentecost.
World renowned biblical scholar Dr Scott Hahn observes that this must mean that God trusted Mary greatly as He entrusted to her, ‘such tasks as feeding His Son with her own milk, singing Him to sleep, and accompanying Him all the way to the cross, where she gave her sorrowful yes to His self-offering. In short, the Father willed that His Son’s entire existence as a man would hinge, so to speak, upon the ongoing consent of Mary. Can there be a more intimate coworker?’.
As Jesus Christ was God and man, Mary lived within the greatest Christian mystery – the Emmanuel, the God with us – bringing His life into the world and giving Him the security of a home and a family when He was a vulnerable child. The Gospel of Luke beautifully describes how this closeness to Jesus throughout His life allowed Mary to grow into wise and truly faith filled woman. ‘But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.’ (Luke 2:19)