Q: How is Mary portrayed in the gospel of John, as opposed to that of Luke?

The Wedding at Cana
Gerard David
Musee du Louvre, Paris
A: Mary in John contrasts with the one in Luke. There she is portrayed as the human person who is invited into God's plans regarding Incarnation and Redemption. Her personal vocation and motherly role are highlighted. The context is that of the Infancy narratives. In John, Mary's role as disciple and associate of Christ is pointed out. In Cana and at Calvary (the two major references) she is the woman who cooperates with her son in and for his mission.

In John she typifies Christian vocation, and she is more than just the girl of Nazareth depicted in Luke. She relates both to the past (Israel, the daughter of Zion) and the future (the Church). With regard to the past she represents a model of fulfillment: Mary's life and person shows how the challenges of the Old Testament can be met and fulfilled. With regard to the future the "woman" represents a model of promise. If we act like her, we will be worthy followers of Christ as individuals and as Church.

More specifically, John in his gospel underlines two roles of Mary. She is the one who points to Christ, and says: Do what he tells you! She becomes under the cross our spiritual mother when Jesus invites the beloved disciple to make of her his mother in Christ.

The Crucifixion with the Virgin, Saint John,
Saint Jerome and Saint Mary Magdalene

Pietro Perugino
National Gallery of Art, Washington


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