In "Gracias" Henri Nouwen reflects on the impact that the news of her impending pregnancy must have had on Mary. He refers to a helpful address given by a Roman Catholic nun at a service he attended while learning Spanish in Bolivia – “She helped me see Mary through the eyes of the poor people of the third world. Mary experienced uncertainty and insecurity when she said yes to the angel. She knew what oppression was when she didn’t find a hospitable place to give birth to Jesus. …. She lived as a refugee in a strange land with a strange language and strange customs; she knew what it means to have a child who does not follow the regular ways of life but creates turmoil wherever he goes. …. Mary is the woman who stands next to all the poor, oppressed and lonely women of our time. ….. Every word in Scripture about Mary points to her intimate connection with all who are forgotten, rejected, despised, and pushed aside. She joyfully proclaims: “He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” ….. She gives hope, inspires the fight for freedom, and challenges us to live with an unconditional trust in God’s love.”
Mary surely raises for us the question as to just what we are doing to stand alongside those who are at the margins. Mary helps us to see that it is OK to have a doubt or two – and to struggle with our faith. But Mary also helps us see what an ordinary person can do when that person is ready to commit to God’s will.