This blog is really short but it’s been ricocheting around my skull for days and I have to say it, so here goes:
I’ve just finished my second pass at a radio play for Christmas, and coming to the birth of Christ, thinking of Mary and Joseph, and what they knew as good devout Jews, I wondered if, in those emotional hours after birth, enchanted by the miracle of a new baby, Mary had an underlying sadness, a sort of subconscious awareness of the grief to come. I thought about the prophecies in Isaiah and Micah and even Job (they’re just the ones I know about, and I’m no scholar) and I wondered how aware of them Mary was.
When my daughter was born I was daunted by the years ahead – I couldn’t remember my Mum, I’d known only a loveless childhood, boarded with relatives, resented by a step parent… what did I know about being a Mum? Could I love a child? Two days after birth, the baby blues hit and I sat there, weeping noisily over my serene child. “What are you crying about?” asked my reserved (so reserved!) Scottish husband. I managed to blurt out between snotty hiccups “One day she’ll be 70 and she’ll need me, and I WON’T BE THERE.” It’s a funny memory but it does reveal the emotional state of any new Mum. I wonder if Mary, the new mother, had the blues, and if she wept too?
And then I thought about the Mary who knelt at Jesus’ feet when Martha was busying herself with the dinner…. the one who has sometimes (wrongly) been called Mary Magdalene. For clarity I’ll call her that too, although two Gospels call her just ‘a woman’, one describes her as a ‘sinner’ and one implies her to be the sister of Lazarus.
Maybe, if the mother of Jesus knew all the horrors her child was to face, she also knew about the love He would find when He needed it most. Maybe she had a sort of premonition that this baby would one day be so loved and adored that a woman would kneel at His feet to wash away the day’s dirt and aches and pains, would pour perfumed oil on His head and in His beard, would show Him total devotion and tenderness. And if Mary saw all that, ahead of time, then maybe she was comforted. I think we all owe that other Mary, Mary Magdalene, our deep gratitude.
We can’t wash His feet, comfort Him, soothe His weariness away, so it’s as if she did it for us. Our God is outside time and place, He rules over history, and He sees our hearts when we love Him as Mary Magdalene did. He sees when we are with her, kneeling at His feet. Maybe, when she did that humble kindness, she did it for us. Maybe when we come to Him now, in loving prayer and worship, we’re joining with her, two thousand years later, sharing in her devotion.
I think we are. I’m so grateful that God can see our hearts, and He knows when we are full of love. When He has filled us with His love. When we are washing the feet of the God we adore.