Posted on: Thursday 26 July 2018
Posted in: Anglican Faith Connections
This term in the Prep to Year 2 Chapel services, we are looking at the women of the New Testament. The obvious person to begin with was Mary, but which Mary? The name “Mary” appears over sixty times in the New Testament which is not surprising since it was the most popular female name in First Century Palestine with about one in five women bearing the name. The meaning of the name is unclear, but if it was from the Ancient Egyptian language, as some scholars suggest, then it is derived from “mry” or “mr” which stand for the English words “beloved” or “love”.
This meaning would be most appropriate when we consider the most famous of Marys, the Virgin Mary. She is the most outstanding example of love one could image. Her example of love is seen not just in the sense of her devotion to her son but in her devotion to God. In the scene of the Annunciation as depicted in Luke, Mary is told that she is to bear the Christ Child and she responds with “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be according to your word.” (Luke 2:38) These words are often taken as a meek submission, but can also be seen as a declaration of purpose and determination. Her words are not an acceptance of the inevitable, but rather a seizing of the possibility that has been offered her. It is a great exclamation of faith which is also seen in the song, “The Magnificat” which Mary sings when she visits her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed…” (Luke 2:4)
It is Mary who is one of the women who support and follow Jesus in his earthly ministry from Galilee to Jerusalem and it is Mary who stands at the foot of the cross with the other women while most of the male disciples have fled. Thus, Mary is the supreme example of human motherhood on the one hand and human devotion to God on the other. No wonder she is so often depicted in art in these two roles.
Fr Patrick Duckworth
There are other variations. In most traditions at least three Marys are present at the Crucifixion and at the Resurrection, but again traditions differ as to the identities of these three, and as to whether they are the same three at these two events.