Among all the saints of the Church, St. Mary occupies a preeminent position. This prominence is the consequence of her role as the Mother of God (Theotokos), a title that was underscored by the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus (A.D. 431) and firmly establishing it in the spirituality of the Church. St. Mary thus appears not only as the person who was favoured to bear the Son of God, but because of her acquiescence to God’s offer, she represents the pinnacle of synergy, the process by which human beings cooperate with God for the advancement of the salvific plan. Thus, she represents the reversal of the fatal fall of Eve in the Garden of Eden, and so is also given the designation “the second Eve.” The concept and role of St. Mary in the Malankara Orthodox Church can be appreciated only in the connection with its Christology and ecclesiology.
While the Holy Scriptures do not contain this information, the Church tradition names St.Mary’s parents as Joachim and Anna, information contained in the Protevangelium of St.James. Her early years are shrouded in silence, except for the generalized picture that she was resident in the Jerusalem Temple. From this point the New Testament informs us that she received the annunciation of the birth of the Son of God (Lk 1: 2ff ), a point obliquely stated in St. Matthew’s infancy narrative (Mt.1:20) St.Luke very succinctly suggests that many of St.Mary’s experiences went past her comprehension, and it was only the passage of time that unpacked their significance for her (Lk 2:19, 50-51). Both St.Matthew and St.Luke record that she was affianced to Joseph who belonged to David’s family. It is in this way that Jesus’ ancestry is ultimately traced to the Davidic line. St.Matthew’s narrative St.Mt 2:1ff) has King Herod making an attempt on the life of the young Jesus, occasioned by the arrival and query of the Wise Men. Operating through a divine revelation, St.Joseph takes the mother Mary and the little Jesus and flees to Egypt. A revelation in a dream at a later stage conveys the death of those who sought the life of Jesus and so St.Joseph returns with St.Mary and the child to their native country and opt to settle in Nazareth for fear of Herod’s son who now controlled Judea. St.Luke alone records the event of St.Joseph and St.Mary taking the young Jesus to Jerusalem to attend the Passover and is somehow lost. After three days the parents return to find Jesus discussing with the teachers.
We do not glimpse too many occasions when St.Mary is sighted during Jesus’ public ministry. There is the anecdote of how she, accompanied by other family members, attempt to obtain a meeting with him, which Jesus supposedly does not acquiesce to. St.John, however, has the narrative of Jesus, along with his disciples and St.Mary attending a marriage feast at Cana and during the course of which the wine runs out. St. Mary intercedes with her Son Jesus, the consequence of which leads to the transformation of the water held in six stone jars into the most qualitatively superlative wine. We then find references to St.Mary only during the last hours of Jesus when she is numbered among the women who watch his crucifixion. St.John has the poignant story of committing her to the care of his Beloved Disciple, an indication that by this time she had no family to look after her.
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