blue graphic with a drawing of Mary holding baby Jesus in a stable

Why Do We Know So Much About Mary?

Why do we know so much about Mary, the mother of Jesus?

Why do we still have a record of this young, poor, Jewish woman from 2,000 years ago? We have stories of the moment when she learned she would become pregnant. We still sing her song. We know about her faith and her willingness to accept God’s invitation to carry this child. We know about her courage—that she was willing to face the prospect of shame and rejection and even death in agreeing as an unwed woman. 

We know about her as a mother—as the one who pondered the excitement around Jesus’ birth and the sorrow she expected for his future. The one who worried when her young son went missing and who pestered him to put his ability to help people into action. The one who went after him when she thought he was preaching himself into a corner. The one who wept as he died. 

I don’t have this type of intimate knowledge of contemporary mothers of famous people or religious figures. I don’t know anything, offhand, about Dr. Martin Luther King’s mother. Or Gandhi’s mother. Or Thich Nhat Hanh’s mother. Or Oprah’s mother. 

There’s something unusual about Mary’s prominence in the story. 

Paul calls Jesus the “new Adam.” I wonder whether one of the reasons we know so much about Mary is that she is like a “new Eve,” who says yes to God’s will. 

Critics sometimes claim that Christianity is a patriarchal religion that elevates men. And those critics are right that Christianity has been used as a weapon for misogyny and abuse through the years. But whenever we turn to Mary this season, we are invited to remember the way women are honored and vital participants in God’s work to begin a new creation in us all.

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