SAUCIER — Into sharper focus


No Christmas pageant would be complete without a young girl in white dress and veil playing the role of Mary.

Remember, though, that, unlike the men of the gospels, Mary was not allowed to take center stage until the Council of Ephesus in 431 declared her Theotokos, God-bearer.

Since then, she has acquired quite a resume.

She is Queen of Heaven, Angels, Martyrs, Saints and Patriarchs.

She is the Morning Star, Gate of Heaven, Seat of Wisdom, and Mystic Rose.

She is “Our Lady of” a hundred places and “Virgin of” of a thousand more.

Life is filled with countless sufferings, needs and desires. It is only natural to want a loving mother, a woman who knows the terrifying depths of pain but also the ecstatic heights of joy, to come to our aid.

But this didn’t really start in Ephesus, which was actually more about the nature of Jesus than it was his mother.

We must go back to Luke’s nativity story and see Mary, not as the budding queen, but as a young woman, barely more than a child, whose life takes an unforeseen turn.

Betrothed at 12 or 14, her expected future was troubling enough — living with a man, having children, running a household.

Then, the angel Gabriel appears to her, which was not a normal occurrence in little no-name Nazareth. According to Luke, she is immediately suspicious when the angel greets her: “The Lord be with you.”

 “Surprise!” he says, “you’re going to have a child. That child is going to be the long-awaited Messiah, the Son of God.”

Mary responds, “Let it be to me according to your will,” but it is not as if she was given a choice about pregnancy.

It is no surprise that Mary runs off to be with her kinswoman Elizabeth. Helping the expectant Elizabeth was good cover to flee the embarrassment and the wagging tongues.

Somewhere in the long journey and the warm welcome of her cousin, Mary’s path became clear and her commitment complete.

She proclaims, maybe sings, her “Magnificat,” which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord.”

It is sometimes translated “exults,” as in the song of Hannah, but I like magnifies.

In her courageous choice, in her “yes” to a hard childbirth, a poor household, and a suffering son, she “magnified” the Lord.

She made the promise of God more visible in all its love and consolation.

That’s why the ages have turned to her.