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Mary in the Bible – As Unpacked by Dr. Edward Sri

February 11, 2015

My Bible Study group recently finished a study on the Blessed Mother in the Bible by Dr. Edward Sri called “Mary: A Biblical Walk with the Blessed Mother.” It is fascinating how Biblical scholars can get so much out of a single passage!

prayer_madonnaThis study covers the Marian passages: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple, the Wedding at Cana, Mary at the Cross, and Mary Crowned with Glory. There are a couple of other very brief mentions of Mary in the Bible, like when she is asking for Jesus when He is preaching and when she is with the Apostles at Pentecost, that are not covered in this study. In the video portion of this study, Dr. Sri is on location in the Holy Land, such beautiful, holy scenery!

Dr. Sri’s study allows the student to get inside the gospel in such a deep, deep way. He provides Old Testament parallels to better understand Mary’s mission, as well as historical context to make sense of Jewish culture 2000 years ago, all to make Mary’s story come alive.

As most Catholic’s know, Mary isn’t just a minor character in the story of Salvation history. She played and continues to play a significant role. We see this in the opening story in Luke’s Gospel, the Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38). “Hail, full of grace,” Gabriel says to Mary first thing, to which she is greatly troubled. Sri compares this announcement to Mary with announcements of great missions to Moses (Exodus 3:10-12) and Gideon (Judges 6:14-18).

Now, go! I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt. But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” God answered: I will be with you; and this will be your sign that I have sent you. When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will serve God at this mountain.

Moses received his mission first, he then expressed fear at such a great mission, and then God assured him that He would be with Moses.

The LORD turned to him and said: Go with the strength you have, and save Israel from the power of Midian. Is it not I who send you? But he answered him, “Please, my Lord, how can I save Israel? My family is the poorest in Manasseh, and I am the most insignificant in my father’s house.”The LORD said to him: I will be with you, and you will cut down Midian to the last man. He answered him, “If you look on me with favor, give me a sign that you are the one speaking with me. Please do not depart from here until I come to you and bring out my offering and set it before you.” He answered: I will await your return.

Gideon has a similar scenario, mission described, his fear and obstacles to the mission, and then God’s assurance.

And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.”But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

Mary’s scenario follows a different order. She receives her assurance of God with her even before she found out what her mission was! And, Mary being a good Jewish girl knew full well the meaning of the phrase, “the Lord is with you”. Hence, her fear. This was such an eye-opening examination of scripture, and this Bible Study offered many more “wow! really?!” moments of understanding.

I hope you get the opportunity to do this Bible Study with your group. If you aren’t able to, Edward Sri has a companion book, Walking with Mary: A Biblical Journey from Nazareth to the Cross, that you can read to learn everything the Study course offers.

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