Three Women by name Mary (Fr. Varghese Paul, S.J.)

We have several women called by name Mary in the New Testament. Among them the first and foremost women is Mary, the mother of Jesus, wife of Joseph. Among seven or eight others by name Mary, the second Mary is Mary Magdalene, the third Mary is Mary of Bethany and the fourth is Mary, mother of James and Joseph. We have already portrayed the characters of these four persons.

Among others women characters are 1) Mary the wife of Clopas, 2) Mary, mother of John Mark and 3) Mary of the Church at Rome. We do not have detailed account of these three persons. They may be certainly eminent persons of their times but the writers of the New Testament give us very little information about them.

Mary, the wife of Chopas, as I have mentioned elsewhere, appears only in the fourth Gospel. The Synoptic Gospel does not mention her name at all. But all three do mention the name of Mary, mother of James and Joseph. So some biblical scholars maintain that these two names are not of two different persons but they are one and the same person.

I tend to believe that they are actually two different persons. The New Testament tells us that Jesus had several women disciples. It is not at all surprising that Jesus had several women followers. In the Jewish society women were second class citizens with no right or voice of their own. But Jesusdealing with them presents a different picture. In the examples like the women caught in adultery or the woman at Jacobs well, the women searching for the lost coin or the widow seeking justice, Jesus gives them all their dignity and respect as human beings. There were too many women to mention them or identify accurately by their proper names. These may be the reasons why all women are not mentioned in all the four gospels or they are mentioned in different ways.

Mary, mother of John Mark is mentioned only once in the Acts of the Apostles. Simon Peter went straight to this Marys house when he was miraculously released from Herods prison. Acts says Aware of his situation, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying (Acts 12, 12).

This brief description of Mary and her house speaks much about the life and labour of Mary, the mother of John Mark, the author of the second Gospel.

Obviously Mary owned a big and spacious house and very generously she made it available for the followers of Jesus to gather and pray. Marys house was the regular meeting place for the first followers of Jesus. Jesus and his disciples must have visited the house several times and that is why Peter went there straight when he was released from the prison.

Tradition maintains that the Upper Room where Jesus and his 12 Apostles gathered for the Last Supper was in Marys house and it was also the place where the Apostles, other Mary and Mother disciples gathered after Jesus ascension. And they received the Holy Spirit also there.

Mary the mother of John Mark seems to have been a rich widow that she could afford not only a big house but also servants to maintain it. It was a servant girl Rhoda who went to the door when Peter went and knocked at the door of the house. Rhoda recognized Peters voice indicating that Peter must have visited the house several times previously.

Evangelist John Mark must have been very attached to his mother and that must have been the reason that he returned to his home at Jerusalem from Perga (Acts 13, 13).

Bible scholars speculate that Mary, mother of John Mark must have been perhaps the aunt or sister of Barnabas, a companion and fellow preacher of Paul. Such relationship must have been the reason for Barnabas choice of John Mark as a fellow companion in their travels which Paul objected as John Mark had once abandoned them at Perga.

The result was that Paul and Barnabas parted company and Barnabas took John Mark as his travel companion for their missionary journey (C/o Acts15, 36-40). The companionship of Paul and Barnabas must have been a great help for Mark later in writing his second Gospel. Similarly his closeness to his mother too must have been a great asset for him in writing the Gospel.

Mary of Rome is a member of the Christian Church at Rome. We know about her from Pauls letter to the Romans. Paul mentions only once about this Mary in his greetings, Greetings to Mary, who has worked so hard for you (Rom. 16, 6)

This greeting says much about Mary. She was a loved person in the Christian community at Rome and that she worked hard for her fellow Christians. She believed in serving after her Master as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve (Mt. 20, 28). (contact the author: यह ईमेल पता spambots से संरक्षित किया जा रहा है. आप जावास्क्रिप्ट यह देखने के सक्षम होना चाहिए. )

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