Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Name of Mary

Our Lady's Outdoor Shrine
Pampas grass bloomed for the Assumption
and is still blooming!


One of our Sisters, a self-made Scripture scholar who has also taught herself Hebrew, shares her insights on the name of Mary whose feastday we celebrate tomorrow:

September, in a very special way, opens up to us Mary’s pivotal role in salvation history through the liturgical cycle.  Why would Joachim and Ann choose the name of Mary for their cherished daughter?  Since Mary was to give birth to the new Moses, could her parents have been inspired to name her after Moses’ sister, Miryam?

Moses’ name is of an Egyptian origin, since Pharaoh’s daughter “pulled him from the water and called him Moses” (Ex. 2:10)  No other woman in the Old Testament was called Miryam except Moses’ sister.  So Mary’s name might come from an Egyptian background which would be formed from the verb mer or mar, meaning to love and the divine name Yah.  How appropriate: the one beloved by Yahweh!

From the Hebrew perspective, mir or marror, are words that denote bitterness.  So we see throughout the Gospel she is the one all generations call blessed, the one “beloved by Yahweh” beyond all other women (Lk.1:42), who also shared in the “bitterness” of the Passion beyond all others.


In Aramaic, the native tongue of the Holy Family, mar means “lord” and is used as the title for bishops and saints.  The church in India, founded by St. Thomas, is called “Mar Thoma Church”.  Looking at this from an Aramaic root, Mar if used for a woman, would mean “lady”.  So when Catholics in the roman Rite call her “Our Lady” they are on the right path.  Maryam would mean “mistress over the seas.”  To the Semitic mind, the sea was a symbol of primeval chaos.  Mary as co-redemptrix triumphed over the powers of chaos with her son during His passion; she is the one who crushed the serpent’s head.  May we thank her by following in her footsteps, loving Yahweh, and drinking the cup of bitterness with her for the redemption of the world.

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