Theotokos. The very word conjures up a fiery, terrifying Galadriel-like image that exudes power. Not the humble, Middle-Eastern peasant maiden, lying on the hard barn floor, next to a manger in which she has just lain her swaddled newborn, that she may have a few moments rest from the labors of childbirth.
Theotokos, Greek for “God-bearer”, is one of the titles we Catholics give to Jesus’ Mother. The one we celebrate on January 1st. Though my own image of Mary is far more human.
There is a theory that Mary did not experience labor pains, but that Jesus issued forth from her womb painlessly, closing it back up behind Him, angels attending them, while Joseph was off doing something foster-fatherly. I have a problem with that. I have far more respect for a Mary who experienced all the physical, emotional and hormonal difficulties that we women do, yet, in her perfection, was able to master her responses and act in a holy fashion. The Mary who stood in agony at the foot of the cross, dying inside as her son died physically. The Mary who “pondered these things in her heart” for 3 days and was the first to rejoice in the resurrection. The Mary whose only goal has ever been to lead us to her Son, not to garner worship and praise for herself. This is the woman I can call to when I am suffering. The woman whose life I can meditate on when I need direction in my own. The queen whom I follow.
Happy New Year!!