MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS is a spindly green sprout in a wasteland of television. The program tells the gospel from Mary’s point of view, from Christ’s birth, to his crucifixion, and finally to a very ephemeral resurrection, although it is clear that the tomb is empty.
This movie does not deify Mary; rather, it errs in the other direction, making Mary a slightly politically correct woman who, in the end, tells the apostles to go out and do good. This dried message is not at all fruitful, nor does it explain the power of the Christian faith that grew from 12 apostles to billions of people. It is doubtful many people will lose their faith by watching this TV movie. It is improbable that anyone will come away worshipping Mary. However, it is likely that many people will persist in the confusion that Christianity is a religion rather than a personal relationship with a personal savior who is Jesus the Christ. All in all, MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS shows us the need for Jesus Christ and the short sightedness of our age
(CC, PC, FR, V, A) Christian worldview marred by attributing some of the words of Jesus to Mary & giving Mary a slightly politically correct persona plus a very works-oriented charge to the disciples by Mary at the end; some violence in the crucifixion, violence with soldiers going after the babies & Jesus pushed around by bullies when he is 12-years-old but he refuses to retaliate; and, alcohol (turning water into wine).
As Newton N. Minow said about television, it is a vast “wasteland.” Therefore, a little green sprout in the middle of this wasteland is often cause for rejoicing. MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS is such a spindly green sprout. Regrettably, several of its branches are fruitless.
First, it should be pointed out that both Protestant and Catholics respect Mary and this movie does not deify her, which would be anathema to many Protestants. In fact, the problem with this movie is that it errs in the other direction, making Mary a slightly politically correct woman. She is a do-gooder who finally tells the apostles to go out and do good. This dried message is not at all fruitful, nor does it explain the power of the Christian faith that grew from 12 apostles to billions of people who call themselves Christians.
The story, though, tries to follow the Gospel from Mary’s point of view. She shows herself right at the beginning to be a woman who will stand up for her beliefs. After Roman soldiers come and harass a cousin of Joseph’s, an angel meets Mary in a manner that is quite true to the Jewish conception of angels, telling her that she will give birth to God’s son. In a dream, Joseph decides not to shun Mary, and the plot continues with the birth, the incident in the temple when Jesus is 12, Jesus’ time with the disciples, his crucifixion, and finally to a very ephemeral resurrection, although it is clear that the tomb is empty. As a young boy, Mary teaches Jesus to turn the other cheek and even some of his soon to become famous parables.
Regrettably, MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS denies the coherency and consistency of God between the Old and New Testaments by demeaning the “eye for an eye justice” that God instructed the Hebrews. Usually this type of flaw occurs when the script writers are not theologians and don’t understand that justice must be consistent, and that the eye for an eye was a vast improvement over the rampant revenge expected of the other Semitic tribes. However, these theological blind spots are not fatal to the story.
What comes close to being fatal is Mary’s statement near the end when the Apostle John asks her, “What should we do next?” She tells him that they should tell people about Jesus’ great life, his moral virtues and his great love. It is this point where many who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ will yell foul. As even Pope John Paul II noted in his recent trip to India, the Gospel is not about good works nor moral virtues nor great love, it is about atonement of sin which is only available through Jesus Christ, who paid the price for sin on the cross and who was resurrected as a seal of salvation. Our inability to do good, even when we so desire to do so, the hardness of our hearts, the rejoicing in self and sin, all make the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus more powerful. Glossing over this, the movie turns this personal atoning and redemptive relationship into a dead religion which offers no hope, only good works, something which are impossible to do.
It is doubtful that many people will lose their faith by watching MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS. It is improbable that anyone will come away worshipping Mary. However, it is likely that many people will persist in the confusion that Christianity is a religion rather than a personal relationship with a personal savior who is Jesus the Christ. Several other inconsistencies, which are not dreadful, include Mary getting baptized by John.
All in all, MARY, THE MOTHER OF JESUS shows us the need for Jesus Christ and the short-sightedness of our age.
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