Hail, Mary.

I think Mary is far more approachable than Jesus. Just look at how she is depicted, for starters. She is so calm and nurturing. You can’t help but feel love when you look at pictures or icons of her. The opposite is true when I see a crucifix. I so dislike crucifixes. I hate to see Jesus in agony. I feel guilty and shameful, and I feel that is the intent of them. But Mary is different. She is all about love and humble obedience to God.

Mary is like many other saints who said “Here I am” when God called for help. The difference between a saint and an average person is that a saint lets the light of God shine through them. They choose to let God work through them to bring healing to the world. Saints aren’t just for way back when, saints are here right now.

I reject the Catholic idea of immaculate conception. This doctrine does not refer to Jesus being conceived immaculately. It refers to how Mary herself was conceived. It was a workaround to deal with the paradox of how Jesus could be fully human and fully divine at the same time. It says that because she was conceived immaculately, she is half divine. There is nothing about this in the Bible. It is made up.

To make Mary anything less than fully human takes away from her. I need her to be human. I need her to be human because if she is anything else then she isn’t a role model. Who could possibly emulate someone who is half God? The test is rigged from the very beginning. By her being human, she is more amazing to me.

Mary was a young girl who was engaged when the Angel Gabriel came to her and announced that she was chosen to bring forth the Messiah. She was alone. I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying this experience was. Alone, young, inexperienced, and an angel talking to you. That alone would be huge. Then for the angel to tell you that the hopes and dreams of your entire community was going to need your help? Huge.

Jonah ran the other way when God called on him. I can identify with this. This seems like a normal thing to do. I feel like the normal reaction to being asked by God to do something really off the charts unusual would be to say “are you kidding, God?” And then maybe followed with a whine about how you are busy right now and that it would be so much better to do this later, and can’t you ask somebody else?

But Mary didn’t do that. She said yes. Right then. No asking her parents or fiance. She trusted God. I love this about her. I want to be that bold and that trusting. I want to be that fast in replying.

We are all called to be like Mary. We are all called to bring forth the light of God in the world. Every time we choose to help someone, to teach, to console, to love, we are letting God enter the world through us.

We are called to materialize the divine, to make it real. “Materialize” at its root is the word “mater”, meaning “mother”. We are to give birth to God every day, by bringing forth kindness and love.

Hail, Mary, full of grace.