Mary has been portrayed in many different ways through the centuries: Miriam of Nazareth, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven, and Spouse of the Holy Spirit. In a 1975 apostolic letter, Pope Paul VI invited people to find approaches to Mary that were meaningful in our times. Theologian Sister of St. Joseph Elizabeth Johnson has taken up the challenge.
In the Middle Ages and Counter-Reformation, some saw Mary as almost "divine". She was placed on a pedestal and removed from ordinary life experiences. Johnson suggests that we "ask Mary to rejoin us on the ground".
Drawing from Scripture, especially the Magnificat, tradition, and Vatican II, Johnson describes Mary as God's friend and prophet. She shows that Mary is not well served when she is portrayed as the maternal face of God, or as the ideal woman or eternal feminine. Recognizing her as a Jewish peasant woman of faith and strength and a member of the Communion of Saints will lead us to a deeper love and appreciation of Mary.
This presentation was recorded before an audience at the 2000 Los Angeles Religious Education Congress.
©2000 Elizabeth Johnson (P)2000 St. Anthony Messenger Press
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