Jesus’ Mum

Jesus’ Mum.
It is Christmas time, so I thought a poem I wrote some years ago might be suitable. We do not always remember that the mother of Jesus was an ordinary Jewish woman, living an ordinary Jewish life. No halo for her.

CLASSROOM IDOL

In a corner shrine in every room
That blue veiled figure stood;
A smile demure, a heart so pure.
The virgin with the spotless womb –
In plaster or in wood.

She was guardian of perfection’s goal
For which good Catholics try;
Always on hand to understand,
To see my sin and search my soul
With blank, unwinking eye.

In Mary’s house of sun dried soil
The air was goat-dung fresh,
Her armpit wet with straggled sweat,
Her body ached with pain of toil;
She knew the drag of flesh.

She had moaned her way through painful birth,
Inhaled an old man’s breath,
Knew griping bowel and bloodstained towel,
Heard soldier’s oath and barrack mirth;
And cry of lonely death.

I have no time for the plaster whore
Who knows no human truck;
I cannot pray to the painted clay
But I can bless the womb that bore
And the paps that gave him suck.

© Quentin de la Bedoyere, unless author identified

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About Quentin

Science Editor, Catholic Herald. Portrait © Jacqueline Alma
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25 Responses to Jesus’ Mum

  1. St.Joseph says:

    Quentin thank you.
    That is a beautiful poem . A perfect example of Our Blessed Mother and a, lovely tribute to Her.,
    That really speaks of Her love for us as Her children.
    Our Lady pray for us.

    • pnyikos says:

      Yes, it is beautiful — except for one thing: the use of the word “whore” — what could possibly be the rationale for it? “plastic bore” would have scanned just as well.

      By the way, the idea of St. Joseph being an “old man” is not scriptural. It is from one of the most farfetched of the Pseudepigraphia, the Protevangelium of James . The Gospel According to Matthew does suggest that Joseph was somewhat older than Mary, but hardly supports advanced age.

      • If Mary was 15 when she married Joseph she would have been 48 when Jesus died. He would probably have been 10 years older than her — and well into old age for the time.

        Your first comment suggests that you and I have somewhat different approaches to writing poetry.

      • pnyikos says:

        Quentin, you seem to have a misconception about life expectancy. You may have read that the life expectancy of people in those days was under 50 years, but that is because of huge infant mortality (and unknown frequency of infanticide) and rampant childhood diseases. Anyone surviving those, and a mere 25 or even 35 years old, would hardly be considered to be old.

        Don’t forget the traditional life expectancy for adults in the OT: threescore and ten, perhaps as high as 80 with good luck. Also recall the scoffers of John 8, noting that Jesus was not even fifty years old.

  2. St.Joseph says:

    Phyikos
    My thoughts Quentin was making the distinction beyond beauty..

  3. Martha says:

    And yet, and yet, when Mary appears at Lourdes, Fatima, Medjugorge, Kibeho, and in many other places, she is young, beautiful and radiant, to an extent that no sculptor or maker of plaster statues could possibly capture.

    A very blessed and happy Christmas to all.

  4. galerimo says:

    ‘More blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it (Lk 11:28).

    My thanks to you Quentin and each and every contributor for the amazing light they shed here on God’s word. Merry Christmas.

  5. Brendan says:

    Thank you Quentin,
    ” The Word became flesh and dwelt among us ..”
    – Happy Christmas everyone !

  6. Alasdair says:

    Christian traditions that do not place Jesus’ mum in such a central role should do so as they certainly don’t disagree that “She was guardian of perfection’s goal”.

  7. ignatius says:

    But Quentin,
    You still haven’t explained why you used the phrase ‘ no time for the plaster whore’
    I too would like you to unpack the intended meaning a little, just for the sake of technical interest that is..

    • Quentin says:

      A whore is a prostitute. A prostitute pretends she is giving the real thing. She isn’t.

      • St.Joseph says:

        Ignatius.
        I thought my post- ‘My Soul Magnifies the Lord and My Spirit Rejoices in God My Saviour would have been a little hint!!!

      • ignatius says:

        Quentin, A bit too abstract I think. Needs a rewrite, the rest is fine.

      • pnyikos says:

        What is “the real thing” in this case, Quentin? Mary, whole and entire? Your poem gives one side of her, the very human side; but she also had another side, the soul that magnifies the Lord, as St. Joseph put it.

        Ironically enough, though, St. Joseph seems to think that “the plaster whore” does the opposite of magnifying the Lord. But I beg to differ. Mary knew plenty about “human truck” at the foot of the cross, yet no one who uses beautiful plaster statues to inspire their prayers seems to think this experience was incompatible with the ideas the statue conveys.

      • St.Joseph says:

        pnyikos.
        A little piece of misunderstanding on your part as for others.
        Quentin’s poem to my mind had gone past the issue of ‘plaster statues’
        The comparison between a prostitutes soul and Our Blessed Mothers is not an issue
        A ‘whores soul’ would have to be Immaculate to be compared with Hers!
        Their are plenty of people living in poverty and dirt today whose souls are far brighter than a ‘whores’. whose body may look beautiful with plenty of artificial help, the dirt they live in is sin!!!
        Anyway just a point in making .A plaster statue of Mary will be impossible to see Her as reality, no artist could possibly show Her beauty!

      • St.Joseph says:

        Wishing all happiness and peace on this beautiful Feast of Mary the Mother of God.

  8. Iona says:

    Quentin – that wouldn’t be my definition of a prostitute.
    Someone who pretends he or she is giving the real thing (and isn’t) might be a cheat, a fraud, a “cowboy”. What the prostitute does is to give, in exchange for money (or for something of monetary value) something which should only be given freely and in love.

  9. Ignatius says:

    Yes, I should think that what a prostitute gives, or rather sells, is pretty truthful really.

  10. St.Joseph says:

    Jesus said ‘ I am the way and the Truth, anyone who follows me and listens to my Word will have Eternal Life’
    We must not forget that Jesus came through a Virgin, His Blessed Mother, The new Eve.
    A new generation ‘perhaps yet to come.

    Thank you Quentin and fellow ‘posters’ for all your enlightening comments and replies.
    This is my 3rd Christmas from when diagnosed with pancreatic and live cancer, given 8 weeks to live. I wont say it has been easy especially this last 5 weeks after my fall and damaged my back.
    I can be confident that with the help of your and lots of prayers and Holy Mass’s has worked wonders. Thank God and His Blessed Mother to you and to all the Saints for their help and to who I would not have survived. (I don’t even look ill}
    HAPPY and a BLESSED New Year to all.

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