“my mother was quite outspoken,” states jesus christ
Mosaic from the church of Ain Karem.
RACHEL The microphones of Emisoras Latinas are still here in the Basilica of the Annunciation, in Nazareth of Galilee, as we continue with our special coverage of the second coming of Jesus Christ, born and bred right here, as he himself has told us. And I want to tell you, Jesus, that we have received many calls from people who heard our last report on your family and who were … just as surprised as I was. They’ve been constantly asking me to interview you further on this thorny subject.
JESUS Well, I don’t know what’s so thorny about it … Anyway, Rachel, just ask me anything you wish.
RACHEL Tell us, Jesus, was it here, in this place, where your mother received the visit of the angel and humbly accepted her destiny?
JESUS Why do you say humbly?
RACHEL Well, your mother Mary is a universal model of humility, obedience, submission to God’s will…
JESUS Really, Rachel, I don’t know what person you’re describing, but it doesn’t sound like my mother. She was a spunky woman.
JESUS She had a lot of spirit. You know how the country women of my land are… Mary never let herself be cowed by anybody. Not even by Joseph. Not even by me. Want me to tell you something?
RACHEL Yes, Jesus, tell us, tell our audience…
JESUS When I first felt God’s call, then the problems began at home. My brothers, who were already grown up, didn’t understand, and my mother even less.
RACHEL That can’t be, because Mary knew God’s will concerning you from the beginning.
JESUS Just listen, Rachel. Once I was in Capernaum, trying to organize the first group and get our movement going. The house was full of people, and someone told me Jesus, they’re looking for you outside. Who’s looking for me? Your mother and your brothers. And what do they want? That you stop this craziness now and return to Nazareth. And imagine, the most obstinate of all was my mother.
RACHEL And what did you do?
JESUS I challenged them. I spoke up loud so they could hear me Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Those who support the plan of God and don’t disrupt it!
RACHEL And what did they do?
JESUS They were furious. But later, little by little, with time, they began to understand. They changed. My brothers and my mother eventually accompanied me wherever I went. They also entered into the craziness of God’s Kingdom.
RACHEL Your mother prayed a lot, didn’t she?
JESUS Not a lot. But when she prayed, she did it well.
RACHEL What was her favorite prayer, the Hail Mary?
JESUS What prayer is that? … No, she used to say an ancient prayer that I heard her recite many times “My soul magnifies the Lord, because he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the humble folk. He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Yes, I remember, that’s the way she used to pray.
RACHEL But more than a prayer, that sounds like a revolutionary proclamation.
JESUS As I was telling you, my mother was a fighter.
RACHEL Everything you’ve told us is fine. … But what our audience wants to hear more about is the angel.
JESUS What angel?
RACHEL Gabriel, the one who announced to Mary that she would conceive virginally…
SACRISTAN Come now, come now, you two… You have to leave. We’re going to close the basilica.
JESUS I think they’re trying to get us out of here, Rachel.
RACHEL Well, then let’s take a commercial break and .. Stay with us, friends! This is Rachel Perez reporting from Nazareth for Emisoras Latinas.
ANNOUNCER Another God is Possible. Exclusive interviews with Jesus Christ in his second coming to Earth. A production of María and José Ignacio López Vigil, with the support of the Syd Forum and Christian Aid.
*More information about this polemical topic…*
The stories recounted in the gospel of Mark (3,20-21) and in that of Luke (8,19-21) have been quite forgotten in Christian tradition, but they are there to remind us of the conflict that existed between Mary and Jesus when he started out as an itinerant preacher and popular leader. The stories also show us that, just like her son Jesus, Mary also went through a process in which she became gradually aware of her responsibility as the mother of that exceptional man whom the people were following with so much hope and passion.
In Luke’s gospel (1,46-55) appears the famous prayer or canticle recited by Mary: My soul magnifies the Lord, because he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the humble folk. It is commonly known as the “Magnificat” because of its first word in Latin. This canticle was inspired by the song of Anna, mother of Samuel, the last judge of Israel (1 Samuel 2,1-10) and by other expressions found in the psalms and the prophets.
The Church of the Visitation is one of many churches and convents built in memory of John the Baptist in Ain Karem, a small town in the mountains of Judea, situated about 7 kilometers from Jerusalem and considered to be John’s hometown. In the cloister of the church the verses of the “Magnificat” are translated in many languages and presented in mosaic form.
An image that is detrimental for women
A powerful current of feminist theology is currently asking some very hard questions about the personal attributes of Mary, as they have traditionally been described in the Catholic Church. One of these theologians is Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, who has written many books, among them Jesus: Miriam´s Child, Sophia´s Prophet (1994) and In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (1984). Fiorenza indicates three ways in which harm is done to women by preserving that traditional image of Mary and making it the center of devotion to the Mother of Jesus: first, virginity is stressed to the detriment of healthy sexuality; second, maternity is made out to be the supreme ideal of femininity; and third, obedience, humility, passivity and submission are presented as the cardinal virtues of women.
According to the theologian Fiorenza: Mary is preached to women as the humble servant of God, pure and self-effacing, the patient mother laden with affliction. She is presented as the model that should be imitated, even though her example is far beyond our reach. Furthermore, Mary, seen as the beautiful virgin and merciful mother, is often just an expression of that masculine desire for the “eternal feminine”, now projected onto heaven.
An extraordinary book
Her name is Maryam. It is a name so common in her time and place that at the cry of “Maryam” it is likely that one out of every three women would turn around… No matter what religion we profess – or abjure – we date our checks, bills, e-mails, journals, weather reports, history books, birthdays and anniversaries in keeping with an event that happened in the Near East two thousand years ago: the date when Maryam gave birth. … How is it possible, then, that we know so little about her?… Each new image of Mary has removed her further from the reality of Maryam. … This is what I seek to do with this book: restore Maryam’s world and create it again in its wholeness. My aim is to give Maryam back to herself, beginning with her real name. I want to restore her strength and her intelligence, and see her as the polyfaceted human being that she was, before being converted into an icon: she was a country woman, a healer, a nationalist, a mother, a teacher, a leader. And yes, a virgin, although in a sense that we forgot long ago. … There was nothing meek or docile about her. This woman emerges as a person who is much more that what we have till now allowed her to be: a strong woman, talented and wise, who actively chose her role in history and lived it intensely.
These are some of the ideas that appear in the introduction of the extraordinary book written by the British psychologist and political journalist Lesley Hazleton, Mary: A Flesh-and-Blood Biography of the Virgin Mother (Bloomsbury, 2005). The book’s subtitle describes it well: “An investigation to discover the woman who is hidden behind the myth”. Indeed, an infinite number of theology texts have idealized Mary, but very few have attempted to discover the reality experienced by that girl, that lass, that woman. This is the most interesting and bold study we know of, and it is also the best documented.