Oh to be a mother—so many reasons to both worry and rejoice from pregnancy onward. But to be the mother of the Savior…who can imagine it? Every mother contemplating the Christmas story surely considers what it would have been like to have an angel announce our pregnancy or to ride on a donkey with no place to rest during labor except a manger.
But as we pick up dirty laundry and try to corral our children into order, the thought crosses our minds that raising the Son of God surely must have been a bit less hectic day by day. An acquaintance at my parish once jokingly said to me when my kids were little and scrambling about: “Oh that Mary and her one son, huh?”
An Only Child
Yes, Mary’s one, perfect Son--how easy it must have been to raise him. Or not. For such a love between the Blessed Mother and her Son the Messiah--born to teach, suffer and die for us--cannot be imagined. It is a love beyond human understanding with a kind of suffering beyond our experience. Yet, since Mary’s will was united to God’s will, so she must have loved us enough to willingly give up her son to death for our salvation.
After recently watching the movie Mary of Nazareth, I spent some time contemplating the mission of Jesus through the eyes and heart of Mary. From the Annunciation, Joseph’s plan to divorce her, Jesus’s humble birth in a manager, and the crucifixion, Mary’s motherhood was intertwined with suffering. Any mother with only one child must have a special relationship with the single one who blessed her with Motherhood. But the exclusive relationship of a perfect Son with perfect love for his holy and Immaculate Blessed Mother is something not of this world.
At one point during the movie, Mary asked God to let her be the one to suffer instead of her Son. Imagine that. Who among us has wished it was us instead of Jesus that had to be tortured and crucified? But how could Mary not have desired it? Although we never read those words in the Bible, it was a scene that seems only logical—a Mother wanting to shield her child from the pain. Who among us has not watched our children suffer and not wished we could take their place?
In Mary of Nazareth, New Testament events are presented through the perspective of Mary’s motherhood and unwavering faithfulness to God. The film is a time of contemplation, not just of Mary’s suffering, but also of the added suffering for Jesus that we often don’t consider. It must have been one of his deepest agonies for him to see his dear mother’s heart so overcome with grief.
Central to Jesus
Considering Mary’s role in salvation history, it is no wonder that she is elevated as the Queen of Heaven. How much Jesus must love his mother. And how much he must love us that he shares his mother with us.
Is it even possible to fully follow Jesus without honoring his/our Mother in Heaven? Doesn’t she deserve our love and thanksgiving? Would it not be foolhardy to pass up the power of her prayers and intercession with Jesus?
It was Mary who shared many of the early New Testament stories such as the birth of Christ and his Presentation. It was Mary’s request of her son that began his public life and performing miracles. She was central to the life of Jesus from the moment of his conception. She is central to his Church. And if we go to her, she can be central in our lives, bringing her son to us and us to her son. Mary’s love changed the world. It can change us too.
For more inspiration, check out Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families. Your children will laugh while learning big spiritual lessons with Dear God, I Don't Get It! and Dear God, You Can't Be Serious.