When people look at Mary, what do they see? Do they see a helpless teenager pregnant with a child she believes is divinely conceived? Or do they see a struggling mother-to-be making sense of her life as a chosen one?
In the text, we see Mary receiving her blessings (Luke 1:48). People will call her “blessed” for many years to come. And yet, we still have to answer the first question: What do they see in Mary? I have some suggestions that relate to the whole Christmas narrative.
When people look at Mary, they see God’s inclusion of everyone in the Lord’s plan of salvation. When a derelict teenager or a woman with a child that is conceived out of wedlock hear Mary’s story, they say to themselves: “God is calling me to Himself. I am included in God’s plan despite my questionable situation.” When a poor man, who is struggling with providing for his family, sees God’s work in Mary life, he will understand that God will use the poor and destitute people of this world for His plan of salvation. He will say, “I am included in God’s plan.” When outsiders come to Mary, the foreigners, the non-Jews, and the unschooled in the ways of the Jewish religion, they will feel God’s inclusion. They will say: “If God can use a young woman who is not schooled in the Rabbinic religious ways, then He can also use me, an outsider to the traditions of the Jews.” All of them will perceive God’s inclusion because they see Mary demonstrating God’s salvation in her life.
When people see Jesus, they see him as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). They see Jesus as the Light for all the nations, for all cultures and tribes (Isaiah 42:6). Everyone is included. When people look at Mary, they see the same inclusion. Everyone can be blessed, just like Mary. God’s blessing is flowing through Mary, the blessing that started with Abraham, is now available for everyone who comes to God in humility and trust (see Luke 1:55 and Genesis 12:1-3). God is including every person.
Some questions for you: When people look at you, do they feel included in God’s plan of salvation? Are they drawn closer to God? When they see you, do they hear God saying: “Come to me all of you. I am including you in my plan of salvation for the whole world, despite your situation and regardless of who you are.”