Andrew Jones introduces his new book Mary
During a pilgrimage to a Spanish shrine dedicated to Mary some years ago I was struck by an apparent imbalance between, on the one hand, ornate centres of gathering dedicated to Mary scattered all over the world and, on the other, a curious scarcity of detail concerning her in the New Testament. One afternoon in Spain I embarked on a journey to redress that balance.
At the outset of the journey I was keen to dispel two things: first, the idea that Mary is the property of one particular Christian tradition. Mary belongs to all Christians and should be a focus of unity and not contention.
Second an over simplistic approach to reading about Mary in the New Testament. I was uncomfortable with the description of her as simply humble, obedient and lowly. I spotted a possible injustice here and one that has plagued the role of women in the church ever since. There had to be much more to Mary and I was keen to discover what that 'much more' could be.
Searching for this 'much more' brought me face to face with the gospel experience of 'transfiguration' and the human quest for 'liberation'. The transfiguration of Jesus remains incomplete until it is fully embraced as a possible way of life. As Christians ponder the transfigured Christ, we can be transformed and transfigured and through this set free. From this viewpoint we can see that Mary was a powerful and radical gospel witness to the grace of a life transfigured. The annunciation transfigured her, watching her son's behaviour transfigured her, being presented to 'another' at the foot of the cross transfigured her and being with the disciples after the resurrection transfigured her. But not only does she show us the way to live a transfigured life, she also points us in the direction of freedom, a freedom I show we can explore fruitfully and positively through a liberationist theological context for living the Good News today.