Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 17, 2006
Mary's suffering is sign of hope for Christians - professor
By BILL GLEN
WCR Staff Writer
Lac Ste. Anne
Mary was a simple woman living in the little village of Nazareth. But her walk of faith to the cross and her suffering is a sign of hope for all of us, says a prominent theology professor.
"The Bible tells us that the angel Gabriel comes to visit Mary who is betrothed to Joseph in a small village in Galilee. We are given few details. There was nothing significant about her," said Ted Sri.
"She was a very young woman. Yet in the middle of her day, an angel suddenly appeared. That would be quite startling."
Speaking at the Lac Ste. Anne Shrine July 2, Sri described Gabriel's call to Mary as "a daunting mission."
"The first words from the angel's mouth are 'Hail, full of grace. The Lord is with you.' These are words we are all familiar with. Mary, a good biblical Jew, hears those words. She could have said 'And also with you. How's your day, Gabriel?'"
Sri is a professor of theology at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan. He is the author of several books, including the recently published The Da Vinci Deception, co-authored with Mark Shea.
He said Mary knew those words through Scripture readings to be used by God or angels, given to certain people who were being raised up to a crucial role.
Mary hears Gabriel's call, realizing her mission will cause her to rely on God as never before. All Mary knows is that whatever Gabriel has been sent to do, God is going to lead her on a path with many trials and challenges.
"The text tells us that Mary was greatly troubled. She was told she would have the great son of David who prophets were told that one day would come to restore the kingdom to Israel. And she was going to have that son, but not through ordinary human relations. She would have the child by the power of the Holy Spirit."
Sri said Mary was probably no more than 16 years old when she was told her son would be the Son of God.
"That is a lot to take in with one short conversation with an angel," he said.
And her response?
"She simply said 'Let it be done to me according to your word.'"
It was not a passive submission, but an active embrace of God's will, Sri said. She hears the message and longs for it. She knows this has never been done before.
Just as she witnessed the unimaginable torture of her son, Jesus.
"Mary was the Immaculate Conception, with more trust and insight to what Jesus was all about than anyone else had. Nevertheless, she is still a human person. When she is at Calvary, she did not understand exactly what was happening. Yet she trusted in her heart. Imagine what she was feeling?"
She was never given absolute assurance about what was going to happen, Sri said.
"Pope John Paul II described this scene with Mary at the cross as her spiritual crucifixion. Jesus had the sword put through his side, but Mary had the sword put through her soul. Yet she had faith."
Sri said Mary sacrificed her own flesh and blood to allow her son to fulfill his mission.
"She gave away everything, as we are called not to hold anything back."