By Bishop Ann Svennungsen
The garment I will choose for Mary will be deep blue – blue like the ocean, like the endless night sky. Enough of this pale blue – as if the only thing that matters was that she was a virgin, meek and mild, pale and fading from view. No, we will use a color that is deep and strong.
For according to Luke’s gospel, Mary appears as a disciple with courage like Simon Peter, a prophet with the fire of Amos. The blue colors of Mary’s Song, the Magnificat, are a fulfillment of the prophecy of Amos: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” That’s the blue of a deep, rushing stream.
Mary is really the first disciple, the first to hear the good news of Jesus, and the first to believe.
The remarkable Roman Catholic New Testament scholar, Raymond Brown, notes that Mary is really the first disciple – the first to hear the good news of Jesus and the first to believe. “Let it be done according to your work,” she says.
She’s also the first to live out her discipleship. And, she does this in two distinct ways. First, she runs to tell Elizabeth the good news. Disciples don’t just keep the word to themselves; they share the good news with others. Second, Mary interprets the good news in her song, Magnificat. She doesn’t just say “the Messiah is coming,” but she tells us what it will mean.
THE ANGEL TOLD MARY who Jesus is, namely, Messiah and Son of God, and Mary believes. But she also translates this identity in terms of what his coming will mean for the world.
Mary is anticipating the gospel of her son who announced his ministry as good news for the poor and hungry, blessing for the sorrowful and lowly, woe for the rich and proud.
Mary interprets the good news in her song, Magnificat. She doesn’t just say “the Messiah is coming,” but she tells us what it will mean.
In a way, our baptism is like that greeting from Gabriel. To Mary, Gabriel says, “Fear not for you have found favor with God.” Likewise, in baptism, God greets us with divine favor and love. And in those blue waters, we’re invited to carry Jesus in our lives – not a womb for nine months, but in our hearts, our minds, our whole being, for all eternity. We are greeted with the grace and favor of God, who chooses to dwell in us. God makes a home in us, and, upon entering, God says, “This home is good – this home was made in my image and is now being conformed to the image of Christ.”
Gabriel’s greeting changed Mary’s life – forever. And so it will change ours. We see things differently through the waters of baptism. It’s like being given the prophet’s royal blue lenses. We are less enamored by worldly definitions and power and status – and more aware of the poor and of the joy found in accompaniment.