I'd like to know Mary—the mother of our Lord—a lot better than I do. My Protestant indoctrination in earlier days left me with an impression of Mary as little more than a birthing mother and a compliant, second-level player in the Christmas story relegated to nurse-maiding the baby Jesus once he was born.

But now in more recent years, she has ascended to hero-status in my thinking. The new Mary, I've recognized, is tough, resilient, gutsy, healthfully independent, possessive of a radical gospel agenda. She is the epitome of mother-power. You must like her; you must listen to her. Jesus clearly loved her, and it's obvious that he certainly listened to her … a lot.

Think about this. Mothers "enjoy" nine months of almost exclusive influence upon a child while it remains in the womb. In most cases, the influence continues—little diminished—in the next 2-3 years of life. And what's to be said of the years beyond that?

The things a mother can pump into the life of a child in those first years—for good or for ill—is beyond calculating. And so it must have been with Mary and Jesus.

Mary's so-called "Song" in the Gospel of Luke is probably as close as we might get to knowing not only what she felt about the role that Heaven thrust upon her as the mother of the Messiah but also the agenda she pressed into his soul concerning his destiny. It is quite clear from the very beginning of the story: this Jewish mother had high, very high, intentions in mind for her boy.

I assume that Mary's song—the Magnificat—was a summary of the thoughts and feelings she shared with the followers of Jesus down through the years. One can only imagine that she was asked a million times, "What in the world ...

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