Sunday, March 26, 2006

Blessed Mary and Richie Heinlein

Yesterday on the Feast of the Annunciation, I was reading Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others and thinking about Richie Heinlein’s ministry to our parish’s Sunday School third-graders when I came across this in McKnight’s chapter on “Mary: The story of Vocation”:

Most Bible readers fail to connect Jesus with Mary when they think of the teaching of Jesus. This failure fulfills what I think should be the (tongue-in-cheek) correct translation of Luke 1:48: “From now on all generations (except Protestants!) will call me blessed.” While some tend to adore Mary a little too much, Protestants tend to avoid her too often. Most Protestants have less respect for Mary than Frederica Mathewes-Green, who needed to adjust to Mary when she became Eastern Orthodox. She confessed: "I like [Mary] and everything. I respect her. She’s his Mom . . . . I feel a formal distance, like we’re still at the pleased-to-meecha stage. "

There is good reason, them, for many of us to reconsider Mary’s impact on Jesus because the Gospels clearly show that she had a significant influence on his teachings.

On any reading of the Magnificat (Mary’s Song), we find five of the major themes of Jesus’ very own teachings and mission. It is not hard to figure which came first. To begin with, as Mary blesses the holy Name of God and asks God to fill the hungry, so Jesus hallows God’s Name, prays for daily bread. And blesses the hungry. Second, as Mary is poor and from the Anawim [the Hebrew word for "the poor"], so Jesus blesses the poor and opens banquet doors to the poor. As Mary is a widow, so Jesus frequently shows mercy to widows. Third, as Mary prays for the powerful to be stripped of their unjust powers, so Jesus regularly tussles with unjust powers. Fourth, as Mary’s prayer emphasizes God’s mercy and compassion, so Jesus is known for mercy and compassion. And, fifth, Mary’s own prayerful concern for Israel’s redemption is seen in Jesus’ wrenching prayer for Jerusalem. These similarities are not accidents.

We must conclude that Mary passes on her own vision and vocation to her son. Our own vocations are not just to accomplish our special assignments, but to pass God’s claim on our lives to our children and the next generation.

As I read McKnight’s observations about Mary, I thought of Richie Heinlein and his own Sunday-by-Sunday Mary-like care of children. Like Mary, Richie is passing on God’s claim to the next generation. For that, Richie, on this day after the Annunciation, all of us say, “Thanks you!” as you magnify the Lord with Mary, whom you and all generations call “blessed.”

1 Comments:

Blogger Mason Smith said...

I think the NIV does a good job of translating the Magnificat. Here it is from Luke 1.46-55.

And Mary said:

"My soul glorifies the Lord/
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,/
for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant/
From now on all generations will call me blessed,/
for the Mighty One has done great things for me--holy is his name./
His mercy extends to those who fear him,/
from generation to generation./
He has performed mightly deeds with his arm;/
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts./
He has brought down rulers from their thrones/
but has lifted up the humble./
He has filled the hungry with good things/
but hs sent the rich away empty./
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful/
To Abraham and his descendants forever,/
even as he wais to our fathers."

The poem is beautiful in any translation.
Best wishes,
Mason Smith

Monday, 27 March, 2006  

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