There’s Something About Mary – Synchroblog


I didn’t grow up saying “hail Mary”s. Most little Italian girls did, but I didn’t. (I grew up hailing Twila Paris and Amy Grant, you could say.) It took me a while to understand what those beaded necklacy-things were that my Catholic relatives had, too.

When I studied in Rome in 1999, my favorite place to church-gawk was at Santa Maria in Trastevere. It has been said that this church, dating back to the 4th century, was one of the first places where the eucharist was celebrated publically. The mosaics of Mary there always held my stares.

There is something about Mary that little Protestant girls tend to miss out on. (Maybe little Roman Catholic girls do, too.) I grew up reacting to Mary, and distancing myself from her, because I couldn’t understand why some honored her so.

As I grow up, I think I’m becoming (a little) less reactionary. Today, “redeeming the season” for me means reconsidering Mary’s role in ushering in the King.

There’s something about Mary that made her instinctively trust that the Father was good, even when Gabriel brought her such troubling news. I get such a kick out of all those old, beautiful icons of Mary at the annunciation. As it is announced that she will have this Kingly-baby, she is so often depicted with a hand out and a frightened look. A bit of artistic understatement, I’d say.

From what I gather, this supposed good-tidings-of-great-joy annoucement to Mary was plain awful news for her in the short-term. There were unspoken cultural implications to Gabe’s message, and we often skip over these for the happy ending.

“Surprise! In a few weeks, your whole village will presume you’re a whore! And your fiance will likely not marry you, either!”

There’s something about Mary that she trusted that God was good, even when he was asking her to suffer. And suffer she did as she watched her little baby hang on a cross, about thirty years later.

And even that suffering was prophesied to her. It was not a surprise. Yet, she protected and pondered all of these things in her heart as she helped raise her Jesus, the Christ.

Mary is an unlikely picture of outrageous trust. I wonder what her earthly dad was like, and if he surprised her with good things when she wasn’t looking. I wonder if that made it that much easier to trust God the Father in her greatest moment.

When I pray for my generation, I pray that the fatherless and the ones deeply wounded by their fathers would somehow be able to trust that God the Father is good. We need more unsuspecting characters, like teenage Mary, to point us back to these simple starting points. Particularly during a season of welcoming.

Read on below and check out what other folks are saying about “Redeeming the Season.”

(There’s Something About Mary photo by Eyetoeye)

11 Responses to “There’s Something About Mary – Synchroblog”
  1. Bryan Riley says:

    This is fantastic, Jenelle, and is a post to which I totally relate. Great post.

  2. Phil Wyman says:

    Thanks for a review of your Protestant considerations of Mary. Nice peek into your heart.

  3. elizabeth says:

    one of my fave things about mary is that she “pondered these things in her heart” (or “treasured” as the esv says). i like that she didn’t talk about all of the crazy things going on in her life just yet, but chose to treasure, ponder, and as you say ‘protect’ what she heard.
    reminds me that i need to keep my dang mouth shut sometimes and just listen. and treasure!

  4. joy says:

    ah. beautiful. i love what you said about how this brings us back to remember simple starting points. i think you’ve got a good thought going there. it made me think, at least.

    as a catholic-turned-protestant i never quite understood the hype about Mary, and was in my late teens before i understood just how special she was. though i can still recite the hail mary (and it’s quite a beautiful prayer, really).

    thanks for your thoughts. made me think.

  5. Alan Knox says:

    Thank you, Jenelle. This is beautifully written and an important challenge for all of us to consider the faith of Mary.


  6. Steve says:

    A few years ago I also visited that church in Trastevere, which was the headquarters of a movement called the Society of St Egidio or something like that.

  7. Ed G. says:

    This is beatiful, thank you.

  8. Tim Abbott says:

    Really helpful. Unravelling our thoughts and prejudices about Mary takes some doing – thanks for doing it well.

  9. sallysjourney says:


  10. Bernie says:

    Thank you for your picture of the mother of our Savior. Her obedient spirit must have come from living in obedience to her parents. At her young age she probably knew a little about gossips and outcasts but could not have fully understood how she would soon be treated. Her life must have been one of trust in God because of what also would happen later when all of her friend’s boy children under the age of 2 would be murdered by Herod. But not hers, because she and Joseph sped off to Egypt in the middle of the night. She would later return with her Son and again see her friends who had lost their sons. God was preparing her for even greater sorrow. It also impresses me that even though the scriptures do not say much about Joseph, he must have been prepared by God to serve as the earthly step-father of our Savior. He must have been a righteous man. It could not have been easy for him in his role either. Happy birthday, Jesus. What a miracle.

  11. Jenelle says:

    I had never before thought of the grief Mary must’ve felt over her friends likely losing their sons, on account of Herod. Thank you for your insights!

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