The Real Mary: Chapter Two

In this chapter McKnight focuses on Mary’s response, “may it be.” He examines the socio-cultural factors that would have discouraged Mary from responding to God’s call. Imagine a thirteen (or so) year old girl agreeing to pregnancy outside of marriage. Public shame, mockery, and a ruined reputation were the best she could hope for. McKnight also describes the awareness Mary must have had regarding the way her son-to-be would be treated. Joseph, Mary, and their son would all be subject to horrible social ostracism. McKnight writes, “She must have wondered if there was an easier way (p. 13).”

Immediately, my mind is drawn to Gethsemane. The NRSV gives us the end of Jesus’ grueling prayer session in the garden, “…yet not what I want but what you want.” Should we be surprised that Jesus would respond this way? When his mother was facing the same order of shame for embracing the vocation God offered she said, “…let it be with me according to your word.” “Mary, in faith, began to carry a cross before Jesus was born. Mary began to suffer for the Messiah before the Messiah suffered (p. 13).” I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a powerful display of how the “Christ-bearing” that begin with Mary resulted in the “cross-bearing” modeled by Jesus. Yet it shouldn’t be a surprise. Bearing Christ is never far removed from bearing a cross. May God grant us the spiritual resolve to answer with Mary, “May it be with me according to your word.”

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