Friday, July 20, 2007

Blessed Mother Mary and Motherhood

How can the Virgin Mother of God, the first disciple, a member of the Holy Family, and the Mother of the Church also be my mother? How does the Blessed Mother's life affect mine? How can a simple mother like me aspire to imitate such an amazing mother?

When we think about Mary, we may recall instances in her life that we have learned which illustrate her gentleness, humility, holiness, and her selflessness. Images from our Catholic tradition and what we have learned from Scripture may come to mind. We are reminded of Mary as a little faithful Jewish girl praying with her people in Palestine for the coming of the Messiah, fulfilling God's promises. Mary also prayed for the restoration of Jerusalem as the gathering place of the chosen people. Mary was familiar with Isaiah's words that a virgin would conceive and bear a child called Immanuel — "God with us." Throughout her faithful prayers, however, Mary never imagined that she would be that virgin.

A Faithful and Generous Heart

We certainly recall the momentous occasion when the Angel Gabriel visited Mary when she was a teenager, announcing to her that she would become Jesus' mother (Luke 1:26-39). Because of her humility, Mary found it difficult to believe that it was she, a simple girl, who was chosen by God. When Mary took that blessing to her heart she responded with her courageous "yes" to God. Her determination and generous heart sent her shortly afterwards on a three day journey, on foot, pregnant and by herself, to help her cousin Elizabeth who was much older and also expecting a child. Joseph stayed behind with his work. Scripture tells us that Mary "went in haste to a Judean town in the hill country" (Luke 1:39). We can be sure that Mary prayed and reflected all throughout her journey, while the blessedness of Jesus dwelled within her. After Elizabeth's baby leaped in her womb upon Mary's arrival, the two women embraced. Elizabeth praised Mary for her great faith, and Mary responded with the words of the Magnificat, glorifying God's holiness, justice and mercy (Luke 1:46-55). She humbly expressed that all generations will call her blessed because of the great things the Lord had done in her (Luke 1:48-49).

Perhaps as we think about Mary, we may envision Joseph leading his beloved Mary on a donkey searching for a place for Mary to give birth to Jesus. In their simplicity of traveling mode, Mary was jostled around on the donkey's back, praying to be able to fulfill her mission and bring forth her Son, the Redeemer of the world. We know that the innkeeper turned the holy parents away. Joseph and Mary proceeded in haste to the stable in Bethlehem where soon afterwards Jesus' infant cries were comforted at His mother's breast as Joseph looked on, praising God. Jesus, who is our King and Savior was paradoxically born into poverty, resting in a wooden manger of hay, hardly what is expected for a King's birth. Angels sent simple shepherds to Mary and Joseph to see their holy baby. Mary "treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19)

Through the hidden years, we can imagine Mary teaching Jesus on her knee in the warmth of their humble home. As Jesus grew, Mary surely encouraged her Son to help Joseph in his trade as a carpenter. Mary's faith deepened in the cenacle of prayer that she fostered in the heart of her home, caring for her Son within their Holy Family. She must have shared with him about the Angel's words to her, about His birth in Bethlehem, and Simeon's prophesy.

Read my entire article at Catholic Exchange today.

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