The Real Faithful Mary

Scot completes his excursus of the biblical account of Mary’s life, locating her at the foot of the cross with John , Mary Magdalene and others. Their desire to remain close and committed to Jesus is beautifully and horrifically portrayed in the pen and ink by Pietro da Cortana to the right. Our view of Mary is radically changed by this vignette of discipleship; she can no longer simply be the passive Mary who nods her assent to the angel informing her that the Messiah is about to be brought into the world through her service. She is here, her heart pierced by the sword of sorrow, seeing both her son and her Lord radically changing the course of history.

Does she know at this moment that her messianic understandings are being completely upturned or does she fear that Jesus’ whole life has gone wrong, ending disastrously? Mary possesses the most complete revelation of His vocation so it is reasonable to read into her discipleship a resignation to the horror of the cross that is leading to the long expected salvation. To quote McKnight,

Jesus would not wear the crown of Caesar Augustus or the fine apparel of Herod Antipas. He would hang there, naked and beaten, and give to Mary and the world a radically new view of what it means to reign in this world. To reign in this world, Mary began to learn, was to give one’s life for others as Jesus had given his.

This is the real Mary, the mother and disciple, who followed her Son and her God to what might have seemed like the bitter end. Her transformation from an unknown young woman to becoming a member of John’s and Jesus’ families is complete. Though her biblical story comes to end in the nineteenth chapter of John, her legend expands through extra-biblical accounts. Perhaps though, the best way to view Mary is as we see her here, at the feet of the Lord, following him despite the personal cost. Faithful. The same faith that we all pray to be able to demonstrate at our most critical moments.


Lenten Encounter with Jesus 1

Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them…

As our Lenten reflection on the Sermon on the Mount begins, we are brought immediately to consider the nature of our own discipleship. Are we sitting at the feet of Jesus on a regular basis and allowing Him to teach us? Discipleship for many becomes simply a scholastic process; read-answer-listen, lather,rinse, repeat. If this is where we locate ourselves upon considering our spiritual growth, we would do well to meditate on this introductory line to the passage.

Our relationship with Him expands and matures when we are intentional about approaching Him and sitting at His feet. We must ‘go up the mountainside’ and seek out an audience with Him. Allow Jesus to sit first, assuming the position of the teacher, and then circle in close so that we miss none of His words. When we are leaning in close, the proximity amplifies the words and makes them more than that, they are active and alive and they ignite in us a passion to emulate them until the point at which they become a part of who we are. 

Shall we give up chocolate, or give up our personal agendas to be formed by the Master?

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Bearing Your Cross for Lent

For many, Ash Wednesday is the most public display of their faith that is seen by the world at large. The sign of cross is drawn in palm ash on the forehead, ostensibly to indicate the penitent status of the bearer. Other will observe Lent without the observance of this tradition but will focus on the sacrificial nature of the Easter event.

In the forty days that follow, how will your faith be affected? Will your sacrifice become works? Will you examine your faith in light of the public and private personae that we tend to develop? Will any injustice in the world be addressed? There are so many avenues for reflection as we approach Easter that it is an excellent avenue for personalization of your relationship to the Christ.

I’m going to meditate deeply on the Sermon on the Mount and its call to action rather than passivity this year.  Perhaps you can join me.