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    Books, Mary

    Mary’s Freedom: The Hidden Power of the First Disciple

    Mary's Freedom: The Hidden Power of the First Disciple -- FemCatholic.com

    On a scale of 1 to 10—with 1 being totally passive and 10 being absolutely active—where would you rank Mary’s performance in the Annunciation narrative? On the one hand, the angel takes the initiative, does most of the talking, and seems to decide when the encounter begins and ends. Mary didn’t come up with this plan, she doesn’t negotiate any of the terms, and something is done to her. Sure seems like sheer passivity. On the other hand, she does say “yes”, so maybe there’s some traces of activity here, though perhaps not as much as one would like.

    In truth, no matter where you’d place Mary between 1 and 10, you’d be wrong. You’d be wrong because the light of Christian discipleship does not bend to that spectrum and Mary herself is the revelation of a Christian disciple in all her brilliance.

    Is there passivity? Yes, and it’s total. Is there activity? Yes, and it’s total, too. Mary is a paradox because she embodies what we might call “willed-passivity” or “active-obedience”, which disposes her to harmony with divine freedom rather than what we otherwise want to see, which is something like “freedom” as autonomy, maybe even rebellion. But especially in the Gospel of Luke, the explicit definition of a disciple is the one “who hears the word of God and acts on it” (Luke 8:21; 11:28), and before Luke ever writes these words, he paints a portrait of the complete disciple in Jesus’s mother. Later he shows how the transformation into discipleship follows the pattern first established in her.

    Mary is a paradox because she embodies what we might call “willed-passivity” or “active-obedience”, which disposes her to harmony with divine freedom rather than what we otherwise want to see, which is something like “freedom” as autonomy, maybe even rebellion.

    How do we learn what true freedom is in Mary, the paradigmatic Christian disciple? By paying attention to how she listened and how she acted, focusing mostly on the Annunciation narrative.

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