“Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.”
“Of all God’s creatures, Mary is the one who loved Our Lord the most. I choose her, then, as my Mother and my protector, that she may obtain for me from her well-beloved Son a portion of that love with which he filled her heart.” (P.B. Noailles – Founder of The Association of the Holy Family of Bordeaux)
There is only one person who, above all others, reflected the nobility, goodness and integrity of Jesus Christ, and that was his own mother, Mary – sometimes bewildered, sometimes puzzled, often not understanding what was going on and what the deeper meaning of it all was.
Leonardo Boff, South American theologian, said that “Mary must be explored… because in her, God is encountered to a depth surpassed only in Jesus Christ.” She is the model, the living testament of a human being’s potential to change the world with a faithful ‘yes’.
“We knew her to be free from stain
as is the sun’s white beam.
We knew God’s Mother must be great –
above what we could dream.”
We read in the Book of the Exodus that when Bezalel was chosen to make the Tabernacle or Tent, he was filled with the Spirit of God, with knowledge and with all craftsmanship. The most precious materials were used in its making: nothing was to be spared, for it was to be a tabernacle not for a human person but for God. But there was to be another tabernacle, far more splendid. Mary was fashioned by God to be the tabernacle for his Divine Son. She was God’s masterpiece – ‘the Morning Star’, ‘fairer than the moon’. Artists and sculptors down through the years have tried to capture some of Mary’s beauty.
A teacher asked her class one day why they thought Mary was so special. One little boy in the class replied, “Because she was handmade (handmaid) by God.” We, too, are handmade by God. St Paul tells us: “You are God’s work of art” (Eph 2:10). The Bible, however, reminds us that “the beauty of the King’s daughter is within.” (Ps 44:13).
Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Mary embodied the hope and expectation of Israel.
She was endowed with the charism of vigilance and readiness – a total openness to the Will of God. At the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee, Mary seems to be the only one who noticed that, in the middle of the feast, the wine was running short. Her sensitivity to the embarrassing situation for the young couple prompted her to go to Jesus.
The Church always uses Mary as a model of discipleship. Mary’s young life flowed towards her fiat at Nazareth. After the prophecy of Simeon the rest of her life flowed towards Calvary: the Cross overshadowed her entire life.
The eternal love of motherhood is in Mary at the Cross – faithful to the end. At the foot of the cross of Jesus, in the person of the Beloved Disciple, all followers of Jesus are charged to look on his mother as their mother. Mary remained faithful when all the signs and wonders of Jesus’ earthly ministry appear to have been a delusion. As at Cana, Mary’s faith had never been founded on astounding wonders – only a complete trust in the inexplicable and mysterious ways of God. Mary stood there beside her Son, neither expecting nor looking for any visible wonder, just quietly content to “do whatever he might tell” her. Michael Angelo’s Pieta (faithfulness) has captured this serenity in his representation of Mary holding the dead Christ. In the words of Henri Nouwen, commenting on the Pieta, Mary “invites us, suffering people, to come to Jesus…She is the patient mother who waits for the right time to receive our ‘yes’…”
When Mary took the body of her dead Son in her arms, she saw what our sins had done, but she also saw our broken humanity: she must have begun to understand a little more her new role as Mother of a wounded Church.
On October 29, 1963, by a slight margin, the Fathers at the Second Vatican Council determined to insert the official teaching on Mary, the Virgin Mother, in the document on the Church – the Body of Christ – where she truly belongs.
Mary, Woman of faith, you remained faithful and trusting when others doubted. As at Cana you are sensitive to our needs today, and you remind us that all will be well if we do 'whatever Jesus tells' us. I trust that when the wine of my spiritual life is running out you will draw the attention of Jesus your Son to my need for renewal. Amen