What Mary might have said

December 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

We were rehearsing our nativity play. The girl who was playing Mary had recently joined our school. She had been abroad, perhaps in Hong Kong. She had the lustre of the uncommon thing. Those were the days when people did not travel as they do today.

So in Muckross Park Junior School:                                                                                                 The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that she was going to have a baby.                                         ‘I am afraid it is not convenient,’ said Mary.                                                                                    The teacher hurried towards her to quash this fiction, and to reinstate the real Mary’s words.

‘I am afraid it is not convenient,’ seemed to me, then, an improvement on what the real Mary said. An answer that no other girl in the class would have devised.

We must assume that the angel Gabriel’s announcement that Mary was going to have a baby wasn’t at all convenient. Theologians, I understand, maintain that the angel Gabriel’s announcement was intended for just one girl (Mary), in all time. If Mary had answered other than she did, God’s will would not have been done. Because there were no other girls lined up to take Mary’s place.

Many of us know Mary’s true answer: we have heard it so many times that we hardly listen to it, let alone contemplate it. When we hear ‘I am the handmaid . . . ’ words as familiar—and perhaps as meaningless—as a nursery rhyme, our minds run on to finish it. We forget the significance of the words. We forget that only one woman could have put aside all considerations of herself, and have answered as she did:

‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’                   Luke 1: 38 (The Jerusalem Bible)

 

 


 

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