To many around the world she is known as Mary–the mother of God, the mother of Jesus. She was the girl who God loves, freeing her from the stain of sin. She is the girl whose “yes” changed the face of the world. She said “yes” when others would have asked questions, or rationalized. She said “yes” almost without thinking, for this was who she was created to be. She was the second Eve. She produced the fruit of a new tree, the tree of eternal life. And so with her “yes” God came into the world and she was trusted to guide Him, protect Him, and love Him. Mary’s life wasn’t without suffering and hardship though. She saw the nails pierce, she saw him hang upon the cross, and she saw Him die. This was who He was. This is what He was created for. And yet, we do not hear of her complaining or questioning. Tradition tells of a look between a mother and a son as Jesus carried His cross towards Calvary. A look and only a look–words were not expressed; everything was said. Who was consoling whom? Who was giving whom strength? They were there together, mother and Son, each having said “yes.” Mary was there at the beginning of Jesus’ life and now she would be there for the end. In a way, Mary walked to her Calvary. She suffered with her Son, she yearned to take His pain, and her heart ached as if pierced by a spear. When he died that day, so also did she. All of Christianity can be summed up as a love story between a mother and a son.
As a convert to Catholicism, I knew all of these things. It should seem obvious that for many converts it isn’t easy to handle the teachings and devotions to Mary by the Church. But I came to understand and believe in both. And yet, I was reluctant to approach her in conversation. There was still an emotional block I had to overcome. Intellectually I knew the teachings of the Church, but experientially I had yet to meet her in any personal way. I knew who Mary was, but I didn’t know who she is. I knew that nailed on the cross Christ gave Mary to John and gave John to Mary by saying, “Dear women, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” (John 19: 26-27) I knew what was written, but I didn’t understand what that had to do with me. I didn’t realize that with these words Mary became my mother. Jesus in those simple words was giving and entrusting His mother to each of us. It was as if He were saying, “All of these here before me and those to come are your children, mom. While today you lose a son, you gain a family. Be with them and love them. And to all those whom follow Me, all those who have given up everything, you have a new family and a new identify. You are redeemed, you are forgiven, you are reborn, and you have a new mother who loves you. Love her.” A land that was motherless now had the perfect one.
In short, we must go past mere knowledge and application of who Mary was and discover who she can be and wants to be in our lives. We must explore who she is. Mary is our mother. She is the mother of each of us. I wonder when she said, “yes” if she could see my face? I wonder if she had me in mind? As she was giving birth to me spirtiually did she talk to me in the womb, did she sing songs to me, and did she come up with names? Did she get my room ready, tell all her friends, and prepare for my future? Did she watch me grow? Did she watch as I explored the new world before me? Did she teach and show me new and exciting things? Did she teach me how to crawl and was she there to move harmful objects out of my reach? Did she clap when I took my first steps and smile when I later learned to run? Did she turn a night light on when I was scared of the dark and sing me back to sleep? Did a tear roll down her face when I said my first word, “Mommy”? Many will tell me how foolish I am to think of such things, for they say that Mary couldn’t possibly have had me in mind some 2000 years ago. And I am sure they are correct, but I do know that she had me in mind yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. Although she lived 2000 years ago, I surely did not. She was there as our mother from the beginning of each of our lives here on earth, she is with us now, and she will be there at the end holding each of our hands and again pointing us towards her firstborn, our brother, Jesus.
So how does Mary become our mother? That is for each of us to decide, but I would suggest in a world where sin prevails it is important that we cry out to Mary for we need our mom. When a toddler falls down and scrapes their knee, it is the mother who gently picks them up, takes them into the house, wipes away their tears, kisses the wound and starts the healing. It is the mother who says, “It will be okay. I’m here and your mommy loves you.” It is her warm embrace and smile that takes the pain away. Her loves heals us. Mary, our mother is no different. She picks us up when we fall, takes us into her Heavely House, wipes away our tears, kisses our wounds and starts us towards healing in Christ Jesus through the Sacraments. It is her warm embrace and loving smile that takes our pain away. When we grieve, her heart breaks. When we cry, so does she. But more than that, she puts her hand out for us to take. She puts her hand out to walk us to safety, joy and happiness. Our mother wants nothing, but the best for her children.
Often in battle as a soldier is dying he cries out, “Mom, help me!” As we die to self we too need to cry out, “Mom, help me.” Mary walks with us to our Calvary and dies and rises with us. And unlike the yell of a soldier trying to shout across the oceans and seas to a world far away, we cry out with a whisper and she responds, “Here I am, and help is on its way.”
Many in our world are anxious and afraid. Many are looking for answers, hope, and faith. People are confused and crying out, “Why God? Where are you? Don’t you love us?” The world and our country need a mother’s protection, a mother’s guidance and a mother’s love. We need to simply turn to Mary for comfort, hope and charity. As she points us to her Son, we will find our way in an uncertain world, we will find the answers to our questions and we will find the courage to go on. Let us take time to foster and build a relationship with her, the mother of God, the mother of us all, the mother of you, which goes beyond mere academics to a sincere dialogue, a true relationship. As we struggle with sin in our lives and the sin all around us may our prayers express, “Mom, help me.” And with a mother’s love–she will. On that day when our mother embraces us and we her, it truly will be the happiest of mother’s days.