There’s a tendency to see the Virgin Mary as a delicate little maiden who timidly went along, barely uttering a peep.
I suspect it has to do with the fact that there are only four times in the Bible in which Mary speaks. The first is when she responded to Gabriel’s request that she become the Mother of God. “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” she asked (see Lk 1:34). Once she understood that she was to conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit, she told the angel, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word” (see Lk 1:37).
The second occasion was at the Visitation when, after having been greeted by Elizabeth and recognized by her as Mother of God, she spoke her Magnificat—a humble prayer of gratitude to God (see Lk 1:46-55).
Thirdly, Mary admonished Jesus when he had been lost in the Temple. “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety” (see Lk 2:48).
Finally, Mary noticed that the wedding couple at Cana had run out of wine—a huge embarrassment in that culture in that period. She pointed out the dilemma to Jesus and then instructed the servants, “Do whatever he tells you” (see Jn 2:5).
As far as her actions go, we know that Mary gave birth, tended her infant, fled to Egypt with Joseph, cared for her family, and accompanied Jesus on at least parts of his ministry (see Mk 3:31-32). We also know that she was there during his Passion and Crucifixion and that she took his ravaged, lifeless body into her arms once he’d been removed from the cross. We know some of what Mary said and did, but not a whole lot more. Because of this, I believe, people could assume that she was a passive woman.
I beg to differ. In my mind’s eye, I see Mary as a woman of tremendous strength and resolve. How else could she have endured all that she did in her lifetime? I also see Mary as the type of person who never let things slip and firmly spoke up when injustice occurred. I see her as a defender of the impoverished, marginalized, and vulnerable.
The flight to Egypt, the arduous journey of the Visitation (70 miles of rough, bandit-infested terrain), accepting the scary prophecy of Simeon at the Presentation, searching for and then admonishing her lost son when finding him in the Temple, enduring the traps and ridicule of the Jewish leaders as Jesus carried out his public ministry and then, horrifically watching her son so cruelly murdered. I believe that Mary was one tough lady!
So, when I think about the scourge of abortion and euthanasia, I easily can see Mary stand up for the rights of the unborn and others threatened by unnatural death and unfair treatment. I can see her marching for life prayerfully, and with determination. And it makes me want to march alongside of her.