As I age and have more life behind me than in front of me, I find myself in my deepest emotional and physical pain, identifying most intensely with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Here is the woman who in her own Earthly life experienced so much suffering through her fiat.
God designed woman in a particularly ingenious way and our Blessed Mother Mary exemplifies womanhood in the most perfect, humble manner.
Servant of God Archbishop Luis M. Martinez wrote, “Earthly love is especially characterized by deep intuitions and a capacity of unsurpassed comprehension – maternal love.”
Mothers have an unimaginable capacity to know and to feel in the depth of their hearts. This “unsurpassed comprehension” is a two-edged sword at times. I know and understand this in a very raw personal way yet, it is nothing in comparison to what the Virgin Mary experienced. I don’t think we can fully comprehend the immensity of what the Lord asked of her as Mother of the long-awaited Savior of the world. From the moment her “yes” resounded through time, her life was never to be the same. She showed us that humble trust, obedience, and surrender, intensifies the magnitude of what God can do through ordinary human beings.
I have a little pillow which boldly states, “Motherhood is not for wimps.” Mary is proof positive of this.
During this time of the liturgical year, if we are willing, we have a unique opportunity to ponder what Mary might have pondered as the time of the birth drew near. What did she imagine her life would be like raising the God-Man?
What does any parent wonder about their child and the impact he or she will have on the world? Mary wasn’t carrying just another baby boy, but Emmanuel, the prophesied, anxiously anticipated Messiah. She couldn’t show her family and friends his little ultra-sound picture and point out the little halo around his tiny head. No, she had little insight into the journey this child would take her on, or the personal cost.
Did she wonder what he might look like, what he was capable of, or what changes would he bring about in saving his people? I wonder if it ever entered her mind that he might be rejected, plotted against, betrayed, and crucified. Simeon’s prophesy eludes to this at Christ’s dedication to the Lord at just eight days old.
I imagine like any other pregnant mom, she was excited, she was anxious, and she wondered what all this might mean and how God’s plan might come about.
As I look back at my own life, it is God’s great mercy not to have shown me ahead of time what my crosses would look like, or how heavy they would be. So many times they seemed nearly impossible to carry and I wondered why a God who loves me would ask so much of me. But with every cross I grew stronger, wiser, and more trusting. Through the little crosses I gained strength, wisdom, and learned surrender which would help me carry the heavier ones down the road.
We see this in Mary’s life and need to draw strength from her example. All the little crosses prepared her for the ultimate Cross. God did not ask immediately so heavy a burden on a young mother. He prepared her little by little, helping her to continue to trust, to let go, and to believe there was a Divine plan for good even when it didn’t seem possible. This is a supreme lesson for us all.
What does Mary’s maternal heart feel as she intercedes before the Godhead for us now? Her unruly, ungrateful, unfaithful, complicated, and often contemptible children?
Anger, frustration, rejection – no! “Mary’s love is not cooled, is not extinguished even by our ingratitude, infidelity, contempt, nor the most atrocious of iniquities” (Dom Roberto ER. Cam. Seventeenth-century hermit). He writes further, “And if I desert and offend her a thousand times daily, she lovingly receives me in her arms a thousand times, if I return to her.”
Isn’t that what we need the most when we have sinned? A loving, forgiving Mother, who won’t lord it over us and instead welcomes us arms open wide. Should we not experience as much from our own Earthly mothers?
How grateful we should be to have such a heavenly Mother who intercedes on our behalf countless times. She never gives up on us. As often as we fail, we should rush back to her loving arms. This is joyous news worthy of being shared with other hurting, disheartened, and lost humans. They are never too far from the loving embrace of their Mother.
This Advent, come to know your Mother and if you want to get to know her Son, ask her to lead you there. She will show you the most perfect way that leads to Him, whom she loves more than anything.
Oh Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.