Mary: A gospel witness to transfiguration and liberation
Church Times Bookshop £8.10
THIS book by a Welsh archdeacon about our Lady is commended by a former leader of the Iona Community. I still reel from some of the views about the Blessed Virgin from Church of Scotland ministers which I heard when an Anglican curate in Glasgow; but that was more than 40 years ago, and her foreword has helped my reconciliation processes.
Jones begins by focusing on the transfiguration of Jesus, who in the event revealed his true nature. In being born of Mary, God has entered into our human situation and transfigured it. He continues with ideas of Mary growing out of the Old Testament. This is reminiscent of part of the Roman Catholic Catechism describing Mary as the apex of Hebrew women. The paucity of mention of Mary in the New Testament is well discussed, bringing the first part of the book to a conclusion.
Mary in terms of liberation theology is examined in the context of the Kingdom. “Mary is an active member of the poor, just as her son was.” The virginity of Mary and the incarnation are explained in clear but unoriginal ways.
The incarnation and resurrection can change us. Jones uses biblical and apocryphal material. I appreciated the references to the annunciation as “not so much Mary’s love of God, but God’s love of Mary”. Because a parish I once served contains an altar of Our Lady of Sorrows, I was attracted to his thoughts on the cross and grace. “So often,” he says, “grace comes to us through weakness and that’s the paradox of grace.”
It is difficult to do justice to the last part of the book, but it centres on God’s relationship with Mary as being a covenant relationship. There is also a discussion of Magnificat and visits to many of the shrines of our Lady. Topics for group discussion end the volume.
I would heartily commend this book, especially to those who find devotion to the Mother of God in some way alien.
Prebendary Scott was until recently Sub Dean of the Chapels Royal.