Should We Accept Mary as Our Mother?
Mary comes to the aid of her Son Jesus in a flashback scene from The Passion of the Christ.
Mary is a big deal in the Catholic Church, not only because she is Jesus’ mom, but because she is our mom — your mom and mine. Not in a figurative sense, but in a real sense.
“No way,” I might have argued before my conversion. “My parents would have something to say about that. They were present and active at my conception!”
But now I understand that Mary doesn’t have to be our uterine mother to be our real mother.
‘Real’ not always ‘biological’
Even though he didn't engender us after the manner of biological fathers, God is our real Father. He is not like our father; he is our father. We understand he is our “one Father, who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).
And Jesus — is he not the real Son of the living God? He did not come into existence, and certainly not through a biological, sexual union. Yet he is truly God’s Son because he was “born of the Father before all ages,” and was “begotten, not made.”
So if God is our Father, and Jesus is his Son (and our Brother), then could Mary be our Mother? Yes!
And what makes her our mother? Our connection to Jesus, her firstborn Son.
Entering God’s family
When we are joined to Jesus, his family becomes our family. His Father is our Father (John 20:17), and his mother is our mother.
I don't mean “family” in a manner of speaking, but in the highest, truest sense.
Merely sharing a common Creator with someone or something doesn’t make us family. (The housefly is not my brother, and the Mississippi River is not my sister.) When, however, we who are made in God's image are united to Jesus in baptism (Galatians 3:27), then God becomes our Father. We are adopted and made full-fledged members of his family.
A touching scene in the Gospels is when the suffering Jesus, in one of his “seven last words” on the Cross, gave his mother to John.
We are all John
We want to identify with St. John the disciple, who loved Jesus intensely. He is called the one “whom Jesus loved,” and at the last Passover meal he lay “close to the breast of Jesus” (John 13:23,25). He represents us, because that’s the kind of close, intimate relationship we should want to have — and can have — with Jesus.
Of all the disciples, John is the one who followed Jesus all the way to the Cross, as we are called to do.
‘Behold your mother’
While hanging on the Cross, shortly before he died, Jesus knew we needed his mother:
When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved [John] standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home (19:26–27).
This was not a last-minute advance directive for Mary’s long-term care. He didn't let time slip away and realize he needed to make arrangements. All along he planned to give her to us at that moment. We are all John. We are “the disciple” whom Jesus loved. Jesus' mom is now our mom.
The woman of Revelation 12 “brought forth a male child [i.e., Jesus], one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron” (verse 5). But he is not her only child. The “rest of her offspring” is described as “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus” (verse 17).
That's you and me!
What this means for us
It took me awhile to cast aside my prejudices against our holy mother. I thought Catholics made too big a deal about her. Careful to stay away from the appearance of idolatry, I thought of her as an oven Jesus popped out of when her due date arrived, as if she were only used for her womb. I didn't understand how central she was to the gospel, thinking she merely played a bit part in the greater drama of salvation. It didn't realize the profound implications of her as the Mother of God — and that she was my mother! She loves her firstborn Son — and she loves me!
We all need a loving mother to nurture and guide us, to give us insight and advice, to protect us and lead us out of trouble.
I learned if we develop a daily habit of mental prayer and praying the rosary, of deepening our relationship with her, of entrusting our souls to her care — if we “practice the presence of Mary” — she won’t let us down.
Are you tempted? Are you in trouble? Are you weak? Are you lost? Are you scared? Are you tired?
Call out to your mother. Entrust yourself to her. Follow the example of St. John and take her into your home, into your heart, as your mother.
Mary’s last spoken words in the Gospels are also for us, and her maternal instruction never changes: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
“Do whatever he tells you” — Mary
Remember: Never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help or sought her intercession, was left unaided. Amen.
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