Bottom line: Our debt to Mary goes way beyond the mysteries that we have received through her.
In his book on the Infancy Narratives, Pope Benedict asks, "How did Matthew and Luke come to know the story they recount?" For sure, they had divine inspiration, but on a human level we can ask, "What are their sources?"
To answer that question, the Holy Father cites the Scripture scholar, Joachim Gnilka. He explains how Matthew and Luke relied on "family traditions." In a time before printing and electronic communication, family traditions were particularly strong. Pope Benedict notes that, especially in Luke's Gospel, Mary herself is one of his sources. He notes the verse we heard today, "Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in heart." Among the many "eye witnesses" that Luke interviewed is the mother of Jesus. For events like the Annunciation she would be the only human witness.
The pope draws this conclusion: "Matthew and Luke each set out 'not to tell stories' but to write history, real history that had actually happened, admittedly interpreted and understood in the context of the word of God." They did not set out, he says, "to write and exhaustive account, but a record of what seemed important for the nascent community...the Infancy Narratives are interpreted history, condense and written down in accordance with the interpretation." The pope surmised that the evangelists observed a certain discretion, not calling an undue attention to Mary while she was still alive.
From what Pope Benedict writes, we can see that you and I owe a huge debt to Mary. She is that strong, contemplative woman who reflected on the great events that she experienced. From her we receive most of what we know of Jesus' entry in our world and his early life.
Of course, our debt to Mary goes way beyond the mysteries that we have received through her. As we begin a new year, we acknowledge the greatest debt - that she is the Mother of God. She is the mother not only of Jesus' flesh, but his whole person. For that reason - even though she is a creature like us - we correctly call her "Mother of God."
St. Therese of Lisieux expressed our debt to Mary. "O Mary," she said, "if I were Queen of Heaven and your were Therese, I would rather become Therese that you might be Queen of Heaven." Why? Therese explains, "I am happier than you, for I have you for a mother, but you have no blessed virgin whom you can love." Amen.
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