Part 2: Mary of Nazareth

By the time Mark’s narrative reaches chapter three, people are saying Jesus is out of his mind, crazy enough for his family to intervene.  But a new family is forming with faith as its bloodline.

When Jesus went home, the crowd came together again, so Jesus and his disciples could not even eat.  When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” 

Mark 3.20-21

A crowd was sitting around Jesus, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside asking for you.”  He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3.31-35

Jesus doesn’t invite his family inside where he is teaching nor does he exclude them from his new circle. He excludes no one who does the will of God.

Mark’s gospel mentions Mary only this once, when her son begins upsetting people.  How must she feel at this moment standing by, watching him teach, observing who is in the crowd.

Mary of Nazareth, mother of the son of God, has too long been enthroned on a lonely pedestal.  Mary is truly our sister, as Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, calls her, a totally human wife and mother.  What do the story and art tell you about this village woman?  Is she exasperated?  Concerned?  Anxious?  Where are you in this story?  Are you one of the family ready to help Mary drag her out-of-control son home?  Or are you one whom Jesus names as his new family?

Sit with the text and art.  Imagine what Mary’s days are like after Jesus began his public ministry.  Tell her of the challenges of your days this Advent.  Ask her help and thank her for welcoming us into her family.  Pray this prayer to conclude.

Pray for mothers, especially those struggling with their children.  Pray by name for those you know and open your heart to those alone.  How can you help mothers in distress?

Mary of Nazareth, you heard what people said,
words keeping Jesus in his place.
You led your family to his door
to keep him safe and stand with him.
You are among those who do God’s will,
who are mother, sister, and brother to Jesus.

Holy woman, full of grace as we are, pray for us. 
May faith bind us to one another as family.