The next few reflections and sermonettes will be part of a series I am calling “there’s something about Mary” and will queery Marian Devotion and Theology. The image, person, and theologies of Mary, mother of Jesus, have been important in my journey of faith as a queer Latin@ with Catholic roots. I hope this series introduces, or reintroduces , Mary not as a person or deity who so holy she is un-relatable; rather, my hope is to share her as a woman of la lucha who shares in our journey of making sense of G-d’s presence within us and among us, as a person who truly preached from a pulpit grounded in solidarity with others.
who do you say that i am?
Being raised Roman Catholic, I grew up with an idealized image of La Virgen. She was the pure, untouched, holy Virgin who was an example of faithful entrega to God—the immaculate vessel through which GOD came near. Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s historical-critical portrayal of Mary in “Truly Our Sister” enriched my understanding of Miriam of Galilee by presenting a real woman who lived a real life. Her description humanizes Mary in a way that does not diminish her value but makes her more accessible and easier to relate to. She does not give a hyper-fanatic or idealized account of Our Lady’s life but gives historical anecdotes that provide glimpses into the mind, life, and faith of a woman whose decision radically changed the life of her family, her community, and of history.
I have often asked myself what are the origins of Marian devotion and theology? Did she have an honored place for among Jews and the early Christian Tribe? Throughout the discussions and debates on polity, policy, doctrine, rites of initiation, who-is-in-and-who-is-out, and liturgical practice in the early formation of the Roman Church, where did Marian theology fall—did her example, witness, or life inform any of the discussions that took place?
Johnson describes the political, economic, social, religious, and cultural realities of Galilee depicting how both Mary and her community were marginalized on several levels. She was a teenage mother who was marginalized because she was a woman, poor, an undocumented immigrant, and from an unimportant town—who she was as a person was cause to be cast out. As a person who is considered to be on the fringe for being LGBT and religious, LGBT and Hispanic, and a religious queer Latin@, these new insights into Mary’s life bring comfort to my struggles for finding a place within my ethnic and faith communities. How can we as religious professionals use the image of Mary to offer hope to marginalized communities who are oppressed because of reasons of gender/sexuality, ethnic affiliation/affinity, or socio-economic status (or in some cases all three)?
Johnson describes the importance of women in domestic cultic life. How can these new insights complicate and complement Feminist theologies in Hispanic and Latin American communities that are dominated by machismo? What role has Mary played in the development of feminist theologies?
This series, “There’s something about Mary,” will give you and me the opportunity to reflect, discern, ask, queery, wrestle, and enrich our response to who I say that Mary is and ultimately, who do we say we are?