As I quiet myself this morning with but a few days left in this advent season I am grateful for Ralph Wood’s meditation on Chesterton and Mary. He has reminded me that we cannot think on the Christ child without also thinking of Mary, the humble and obedient mother of our Lord and the theotokos, bearing very God of God in human form.
Growing up in a church culture rooted in the Protestant fears of Mariolatry, Mary is not someone I hear mentioned all that often. And yet consider this powerful thought from Chesterton, recounting an experience in his childhood parish in England in which baby Jesus was removed from a statue thought to give improper attention to Mary.
“One would think that this [act] was even more corrupted with Mariolatry, unless the mother was counted less dangerous when deprived of a sort of weapon. But the practical difficulty is also a parable. You cannot chip away the statue of a mother from all round that of a newborn child. You cannot suspend the new-born child in mid-air; indeed you cannot really have a statue of a newborn child at all. Similarly, you cannot suspend the idea of a newborn child in the void or think of him without thinking of his mother. You cannot visit the child without visiting the mother, you cannot in common human life approach the child except through the mother.”
The position afforded to this girl from a small town in the backwaters of the Middle East as the conduit through which world history would reach its climax thus far is one of those bizarre beliefs that helps my faith continue in a world where it is so easy to give it up. God’s veneration of women, declared equally good with their male counterparts and worthy of bearing God Himself, must be in the forefront of our minds as we seek to answer those ignorant of the glories of Christianity. I will never forget how confounded I was early in my high school years when I stranger at a coffee shop told me she didn’t believe in Christianity because “it was sexist.” Obviously you don’t know much about what is truly in the Scriptures I’m sure I so ignominiously replied. Please tell me what other world religion lists a pagan prostitute in the genealogy of its God.
May those of us charged with leading the bride of Christ, the Church, realize the great power that Mary the mother of our Lord as the literal embodiment of the divine nature as 2 Peter 1:4 bids of us. May we understand that we cannot speak of our Lord, or His Church, without reflecting on his mother, “chosen to humble the proud.”