Contemplating Our Lady as mother of Jesus when He was an infant and little boy, it is easy to imagine her doing all the things mothers do for their children – singing Him to sleep, kissing a skinned knee if He fell while at play, holding His hands helping Him to balance as He was first learning to walk. Such things she surely must have done throughout the “hidden years” in Nazareth because these are all typical aspects of human life – our condition which Jesus willingly took on Himself.
We can also imagine this mother-son relationship in Jesus’ adult life, as well. In the film, The Passion of The Christ, there is a brief, but charming scene at the end of which, Mary has prepared something for Jesus to eat and calls Him in from His work, but not before making sure He washes His hands. As He washes His hands in the bowl Mary is holding for Him, He playfully splashes her with water. At her surprise, He gently laughs and kisses her cheek by which time, Mary too is smiling, gazing lovingly back at her Son. Such a scene is very easily imaginable for all of us, because it is something we too might do in a playful, light-hearted moment. It is for this reason we can imagine it occurring in Jesus’ earthly life. These simple ordinary aspects of daily human life beautifully remind us that Jesus fully possesses the nature of God, as well as the nature of man, experiencing human life in much the same way as we do (minus the sin!).
During Christmas, as we gaze upon our Nativity displays, the eye, seemingly of its own accord, seeks out the figure of Mary lovingly beholding the Infant Jesus laying in the manger or perhaps she is holding Him in her arms. She contemplates the Infant God, but as a mother, she also cherishes her newborn baby Son. It is therefore, most appropriate, to honor Mary within the Octave of Christmas as the Mother of God – the greatest of her many titles. It is also a fitting way to start a new year. In honoring Our Lady as the Mother of God, we remember that her motherhood is a great source of grace and salvation for us because it was through her that we “received the Author of Life.” Through her motherhood, the faithful are indelibly joined as members of the Body of Christ, the Church.
In a supreme act of generosity, Our Lord, in His agony on the cross, gave His Blessed Mother to us: “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold your mother’” (John 19:26-27). The last gift Jesus gave to us before shedding the last drops of His precious and sacred Blood was His mother. Mary is always mindful of the needs and desires of her children and is most willing to intercede on our behalf if we ask for her assistance. How comforting and reassuring it is to know that at every moment of every day throughout our earthly journey, the loving gaze of the most perfect of mothers always rests on us – the gaze of Our Blessed Mother.
“To Jesus through Mary” is a familiar phrase to most Catholics and if we consider our basic human condition, we come to understand God’s loving providence even more fully. “God gives a mother to his Son for us. Whatever makes God seem abstract, distant, aloof, elusive, unapproachable or intimidating is overcome in a mother. Although the theology of Mary’s maternity is rich and complex, its meaning becomes clear as we consider our own experiences. For example: when things go wrong, where would we turn without our mothers?” (Mary: Mother of God and Our Mother).
As our mother, Mary is our loving Mediatrix with God and it is said that Jesus cannot refuse anything His Mother asks of Him – think wedding feast at Cana. Despite how unworthy we might feel, regardless of how troubled or conflicted, we rest assured of Our Lady’s steadfast love for us, for her willingness to wrap us in the mantle of her loving embrace and gently usher us to her Divine Son.
Originally published on the website of the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles. Used with permission.
Art: Madonna in Prayer, Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato, 1638-1652, copyright Restored Traditions, used with permission.