Mary: Model Disciple

Today, August 15th, we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. Her title and veneration have been a source of contention and division among some Christian communities in the past. Our biblical texts provide not only a corrective to some abuses but open up deeper reasons for devotion and inspiration.
To start, much has been made of the physical connotation of the word “virgin.” In the Bible, the term simply meant a young maiden. Spiritually, virgin denotes purity of intention, total dedication.
Today’s Collect calls upon God who has “taken to yourself … the mother of your incarnate Son.” We remember the one who gave FLESH to the WORD of God.
Having worked in youth ministry for many years, my greatest peeve about Mary was that she was too often pictured as a matronly European madonna. The Christmas stories (“infancy narratives”) of Matthew and Luke clearly portray her as a mid-Eastern teenager-at-risk, saying YES (‘let it be”) in faith while facing public scandal, an unplanned pregna.
Finally, John’s gospel shows Mary faithfully following her Son right to the foot of the cross. With water and blood (Baptism & Eucharist) flowing from His side, a new community (Church) is formed: Mary and the beloved disciple are entrusted to each other’s care.
Mary’s sanctity is not so much in her physical maternity as in her being the Model Disciple — all that Jesus calls us to be: pure in heart, totally dedicated, fleshing out his living Word, responding with faith in moments of crisis and following Him to the Cross.

I will be on vacation next week.   The next issue of the The Vine will be on August 28th.