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 ...

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