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The new Eve

– Thursday of the 5th Week of Lent –

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words … Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. [Lk 1:26-29, 38]

On Sunday, we attempted to say something sensible about the redemptive nature of Jesus’ suffering and death in the short space available to us. Today we see how Mary, the mother of Jesus, connects with that earlier discussion.

To understand Mary’s significance, we need to move beyond thinking that she is important simply because she is the ‘mother’. While this fact is of enormous importance, we miss something if we do not reflect on Mary in her own right.

In this task, we are helped by thinking right back to the story of human origins in the book of Genesis. There we see the distorted human response to God: the ingrained tendency to both want God and yet the need to hide from him (see Genesis 3:10).

This is where Mary is so important. Into the life of this young woman, God comes walking. However, she resists the human tendency to try either to take over or to hide. She questions, she admits her confusion, but she stands her ground and hears what God is saying. While all before her have been ambiguous in their response to God’s desire to be with them, there is no ambiguity in her. Despite all the questions and doubts cascading in and around her, she quietly says ‘yes’.

The redemptive significance of that ‘yes’ has resounded through the ages. It is second only to the ‘yes’ uttered by Mary’s son in the garden of Gethsemane, when he too responded, ‘let it be done to me according to your will’ (Mt 26:42).

by Shane Dwyer

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