Given the sort of physical risk the Bible implies Mary had to survive in order to have a baby, I’ve always thought that these images of revolutionary women might be more appropriate for the mother of Christ rather than the domesticated, insipidly pale faced, blue veiled, watery eyed portraits we’re used to. If you consider that talk of a new Davidic line would have likely been considered seditious in the then occupied Palestine and consider the content of Mary’s Song in the next passage “The rich are sent, empty, away” (A passage that appears nowhere in the 3 year lectionary cycle!), it becomes clear that Mary stands in the radical prophetic tradition of her culture and knows just what’s at stake when one births a “Messiah”.
In this vein I put together my own ‘Hail Mary’ which uses some bits of the traditional Catholic Hail Mary Prayer and the Litany of the Blessed Virgin.
A Revolutionary ‘Hail Mary’ Prayer
Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with thee.
Behold the blessed and perilous path of women who dare!
To risk shame and death at the hands of male honour and announce to your family, your betrothed, and your village (occupied by a foreign power), that you are possessed by the Spirit and impregnated with the impossible.
A peasant virgin to raise up a child to the throne of David!
Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Fruit from nowhere?
Fruit from Mary, a virgin child?
Fruit from a barren old, Elizabeth?
Fruit from Nazareth?
From a nobody from nowhere,
who reckons herself with the lowly!
But this nobody knows the songs of her culture!
Songs of fruit from nowhere!
Songs of Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, the mother of Samson, and Hannah,
And so she sings her own anthem of revolution,
Sings the world upside down,
Sings the impossible into being.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Mother of the revolution,
Queen of prophets,
Nemesis of Kings,Shrewd entertainer of sedition, Subverter of the Empire, Resister of the occupation , Restorer of the broken line. Your body is a Temple, Beautiful, Strong, Resilient. An Ivory Tower of David, A House of Gold, Ark of the Covenant. The body that marches,
(heavily pregnant, at the forced dislocation of Imperial Census.) That bleeds,
(birthing in the squalid shed of the homeless outcast,) That runs,
(from the death squads, forced underground by officially sanctioned slaughter and cover- up.) Mary, Blessed, Revolutionary, Virgin Exiled Mother of the Nation, Believer in the Impossible, Wild and Liberated, Slave to the cause.
pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.
That we may also say yes to life in the face of death.
That we may too give birth to a miracle.