Mary’s life

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Birth and childhood

The Bible does not speak about Mary’s birth and childhood, but the Koran briefly speaks about that period…
Church traditions have many sources, particularly those of the Church Fathers and Saints. These are not explicitly revealed texts, thus it is up to everyone to have an opinion about. As far as we are concerned we keep to the Holy Scriptures.

Koran 3, The Imrams, 33-37 (Click on the title to see the verses)

These koranic verses consecrated to Mary underline many important concepts.

Verse 33 : “God exalted Adam and Noah, Abraham’s descendants and the descendants of Imran above the nations.”

Imran’s family (Mary’s father) has been exalted “above the nations” next to:

  • Adam, the first created man according to what the Genesis book tells (Genesis 2)
  • Noah, upright and just man saved from the flood (Genesis 6, 9)
  • The family of Abraham, who was a man blessed in every way (Genesis 24,1) and first intercessor (he prayed for the salvation of the upright ones of the city of Sodom and he permitted the salvation of Lot and his family) (See Genesis 18, 22-33 and 19,29)

The honour paid to the Imran’s family is due to The Virgin’s birth and later to the Messiah’s, Her Son.
These verses, subtly, underline the unique qualities of Mary and Her Son Jesus:

  • Adam’s perfection before his fall
  • Noah’s justice and uprightness
  • Abraham’s blessing, intercession and faith (called God’s friend) (See Hebrews 11, 8, James 2,23 to compare with Luke 1,38)

Mary and Her Son are thus placed next to the Patriarchs, but they overcome them because they possess themselves the completeness and the perfection of these high virtues.

Verse 34 : “They were the offspring of one another. God hears all and knows all”

Mary’s family is from the descents of these patriarchs, but here, first of all, is a matter of spiritual descents (Mark 3, 35; Luke 19, 9; Matthew 3, 8- 10) as Jesus who was descended first of all spiritually from king David (Matthew 22, 41-45). They are united by the loyalty to God.

Verse 35 : “Remember the words of ‘Imran’s wife. ‘Lord’, she said, ‘I dedicate to Your service that which is in my womb. Accept it from me. You alone hear all and know all’”

Mary is “dedicated to the service” God since she was in the womb of her mother (See Luke 1, 47 and 48). In this verse it is Mary’s mother who, prophetically, vows in all exclusivity her daughter’s soul to God; indeed a pure soul only could be exclusively vowed to God because not mislaid by the original sin. We can sense here Mary’s Immaculate Conception.

Verse 36: “And when she was delivered of the child, she said: ‘Lord, I have given birth to a daughter’ – God well knew of what she was delivered: the male is not like the female – ‘and have called her Mary. Protect her and all her descendants from Satan, the Accursed One’”

Mary’s birth was truly wanted and desired by God. Indeed at the time of the delivering her mother was surprised to see that the child vowed in all exclusivity to God was a daughter. God answers “God well knew of what she was delivered: the male is not like the female”. In the Arabic mentality of that time God’s representatives were just men, but Mary’s dignity prevails on every prejudice. This even introduces the concepts of women and men’s equality in front of God. (See also Mark 12, 24 and 25)

Mary is put under God’s protection against the Devil because she is preserved from the original sin as well as her descents: Jesus. They are absolutely pure.
On the other hand, every sincere believer is called to become Mary’s son (John 19, 25-27) and thus he belongs to Her descents. The believer himself is not pure as he has been touched by the original sin, but it is through Mary’s intercession that he benefits from God’s protection. It is through Her that the final Victory against Satan has to take place (See Genesis 3,15; Apocalypse 12,1-6 and 13-17).
Mary is directly protected by God because she is Immaculate and she transmits this purity to Her Son.

Verse 37: “Her Lord graciously accepted her. He made her grow a goodly child and entrusted her to the care of Zacharias. Whenever Zacharias visited her in the Shrine he found that she had food with her. ‘Mary’, he said, ‘where is this food from?’, ‘It is from God’, she answered. ‘God gives without measure to whom He will’”

  • She is “graciously” accepted by God as Her Son who has “all the favour” of God (Matthew 3, 17)
  • Her maturity is guided by God Who “made her grow a goodly child“, She is beautiful in front of Her God (The Song of the Songs 4, 7). As Her Son, she grows up under God’s Grace (Luke 2, 52)
  • God feeds Her. It is written that He gives “to whom He will“. It is to Her, just to Her and to no one else that He desires to give this heavenly food. She is the Chosen One of His Heart (The Song of the Songs 4, 12). This nourishment prefigures the Eucharist. Jesus is really the “bread come down from Heaven” (John 6, 51; 53-54 ; Matthew 26, 26-28) come on earth through Her. Through the Body and the Blood of the Christ has come (See also Koran 5, The table, 111-115)
  • God gave Her “without measure“, She is therefore full of Graces (Luke 1,28)

The Annunciation

The Angel Gabriel appeared to a young virgin girl of just 16 years to announce her the miraculous conception of the Messiah in her. This dialogue between the angel and Mary is full of information, and it’s by this episode that the story of Mary in the Bible begins. The Koran written 7 century later is a simplified and poetic summary of it.

Luke 1: 26-37 (Click on the title to display the verses)

Some of these verses are extremely revelatory of Mary’s role and nature.

  • She is humble and naïve, so she is shocked by the meeting of the divine (v29), the angel’s answer specifies the meaning of his coming and his words with tenderness… (v30)
  • She is virgin (v26 and 34) and Jesus conception will be immaculate (v35)
  • She is called “full of grace” by the Angel Gabriel, and he tells her: “The Lord is with you” (v28)
  • The Holy Spirit rest on her (v35) and it is thirty years before the apostles (see Acts 2) when Paul declared that they had just the first-fruits of the Spirit. (see Romans 8,23)
  • The Holy Spirit thus rejoices in her and so “the child will be holy and will be called Son of God” (v35). Mary’s Holiness is therefore the condition sine qua non of the Messiah’s coming ( compare with Psalm 51,7); and it introduces the concept of Her Immaculate Conception ( confirmed by her apparition in Lourdes in 1858)
  • She puts herself a question innocently and pertinently regarding Jesus’ conception: “but how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?”(v35). and after the angel’s reply she did not ask for either a further assurance, or a sign (contrary to Zechariah who doubted him about John the Baptist’s birth (Lk 1:11-20) and who was more supposed to take the angel’s words for true as he was priest of the temple). Mary’s decision will be taken freely and with a full knowledge of the facts.
  • Her final “yes” permits God’s Plan to be accomplished in spite of the enormous bet represented by the fact of being pregnant without a father in the Jewish society of the time, and of being accused of adultery (see John 8: 1 à 5). Her “yes” will enable God’s “yes” to come to the world: ( see 2 Corinthians 1:19 and 20)

It is what Padre Pio will call Mary’s “fiat” a humble and complete acceptance.

Sura 19 Maryam,16-22

The account of the annunciation in this sura is based on several points:

  • chastity (v18)
  • Her virginity (v20)
  • Mary in the divine planis a ” decree that shall come to pass ” (v21)

Sura 3 The Imrams, 42-45

In this account Mary’s unique role and nature are underlined in the Arab society of the 7th century, that gave generally little credit to women.

  • She has been “chosen” and “exalted above womankind”, the words are impressing and are a real homage to her. She is God’s choice and she is evidently well inscribed in the Divine plan
  • She is declared “pure”, and this idea is specified in the “noble discussions” (hadith) of the prophet Mohammed: “No man comes to birth without being reached by Satan since his birth and he cries because of this satanic reach (the taint of the original sin), excepted for Mary and her Son “. We have a new confirmation of her Immaculate Conception
  • The verse 44 seems to indicate very poetically that the angels “argued” to know would have been in charge of Mary…It is a good testimony of Mary’s Honourableness and Dignity: the Angels felt honoured to approach her…
    Indeed her qualification of Queen of the Angels has not been usurped …

Jesus’ complete name is Issa, son of Mary. The Arab names often begin with “ibn” or “ben”, that mean “son of” followed by the father’s name.
Two elements are even anticipated, Jesus has no human parents and His Mother’s dignity overcomes the reserves regarding female in the Koran time.

Sourate 3 la famille d’Imran 47

  • Mary’s virginity is once again confirmed
  • Her careful attitude already presented in Lk 1: 35 is again emphasized

Besides, one should note that this verse presents the events as a direct conversation between Mary and God, subtly revealing their intimate relation (See Wisdom 8,3).

On the other hand, the Angel of the annunciation (Gabriel) is also the one of the Koranic revelation. Mary is really in the centre of all believers’ life.

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