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Mary & JesusI’m fascinated by Mary, Jesus’ mother.

We don’t know a lot about her. Luke gives us a few insights: young and unmarried, from a no-nothing town called Nazareth, and pledged to marry Joseph. Luke says that when Jesus was 12, Mary scolded him for getting separated from the family. That’s about it.

The gospels paint a Mary that hangs around on the fringes of Jesus’ life. John said that Mary told Jesus that the wedding they were attending was out of wine, a social faux pas. That’s when Jesus miraculously turned water into very good wine. We can only imagine the pain Mary felt as she stood at the foot of the cross on which Jesus was executed.

Mary’s character is what distinguishes her. When the angel Gabriel announced to her the coming birth of Jesus, he also told her that she had found favor with God. That favor was cultivated out of rich character, not because of anything she had done and certainly not because of her pedigree or status.

Mary contradicts everything our world tells us about value, status, accomplishment, and prestige. Here was a young woman who was poor and totally lacking in status, yet God spotted her and chose her to usher Messiah into our world. That makes Mary a good candidate as one of the year’s most fascinating people.