Thoughts About Mary Part 5 – Mary as a Learner

Note: This is part of an ongoing series of posts about women in scripture.

My wife and I recently visited the Louvre; one of the paintings that jumped out at me was Leonardo da Vinci’s The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne. In the picture we see the baby Jesus playing with a lamb (signifying that he is the Lamb of God). Mary is attending to him, and Mary’s mother looks down lovingly on her.

While the scriptures are completely silent on this topic, early Christian tradition tell us that Mary’s parents were Anne and Joachim. Whether those are the actual names of her parents isn’t that important , what is important is taking time to think about the fact that Mary had to learn from somewhere how to prepare to become the mother of the son of God, and those lessons most likely came from her parents. Have you ever thought about Mary as a young child? What was she like? How eager was she to learn?

The Church of St. Anne in Jerusalem is dedicated to Mary’s mother; tradition has it that Anne was born nearby. Whether the tradition is true, I love a statue that they have in the chapel of Mary learning the scriptures from her mother. Young Mary is next to her mom, and her mom is holding a passage of scripture. If you’re even there in person, you can see that the passage Anne is teaching Mary is from Deuteronomy 6:

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:4–6).

I love the words that follow:

“And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates” (Deuteronomy 6:7–10).

Mary’s mother taught Mary, just like Mary taught her children. I love the beautiful reflection of parents teaching their children through the generations. Here’s a picture of my wife’s mother, along with her daughter and granddaughters in front of the statue of Anne teaching Mary. I’m grateful for such legacies of faithful gospel teaching.

More thoughts on Mary: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4

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