|Caravaggio (1571-1610) - Rest on the Flight into Egypt (Detail)|
All Christians, Protestants and Catholics, as the Christian family seems to be divided, or defined, these days, have one thing in common: all believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ. In the matter of honoring his mother, Mary, with devotion and imitation, however, the commonality dissolves. Why?
All believe that In the beginning was the Word, that the Word is God, that woman and man are creatures made in the image and likeness of the Word, and that the Word incarnated on earth as a man in the fullness of God, as Jesus, born of a virgin known as Mary, to save us by the forgiveness of sins.
Mothers, imagine your child is the incarnation of the Word. An angel appears to you, and tells you that you are favored by God, for He sees that you are full of grace, so that He will overshadow you by His Spirit and bless you with His Presence so that you will bear....wait....Himself?….yes, Him.
Mothers, imagine that your child is born, and you are visited by kings, wise men, who bow down to your child and present Him with gifts representing royalty, prophecy and priesthood.
Mothers, imagine that your child is presented to the High Priest in the temple, and he looks you directly in the eyes with love and compassion, with thankfulness that you have blessed him with the opportunity to hold your child in his arms, and he tells you that your child will be a stumbling block to your nation, even while a Savior of the world, and that you, yourself, will be pierced in the soul.
Mothers, who are you? Who is Mary? You are the bearers, teachers, protectors, nurturers of the bodies of humanity bearing His breath of life, of us bearing his image and likeness, and we are eternally grateful in love to you for you. Mary was also the bearer, the teacher, the protector, the nurturer of a child: He who made you and us, your children, He from whom, in whom, and through whom we were made and now exist, and have the promise of eternal life.
Mothers, your children listen to you, follow you, and obey you (at least ideally, or for the most part hopefully!). Jesus did the same in respect of his mother. How much more proper was it that Mary listened to, followed, chased after even, and obeyed her Lord? Mother, here is your son, and son, here is your mother.
Mothers, imagine knowing, not only because the angel of God told you before your child was born, but because you saw with your own eyes, and touched with your own hands and soul, every day of your child's life, from infancy to young adulthood, the blind given sight, the lame walking, the feeding of thousands with only a few loaves, the dead brought back to life, the condemned forgiven....imagine knowing that your child, yes the child to which you gave birth, is God come to save us.
Mothers, imagine witnessing, before your own eyes, your child condemned by false witness, He who was Truth, whipped, bruised and battered, and then nailed to a cross, hanging in front of you on the trunk of a tree, praying for his persecutors, thirsting, fulfilling His purpose.
Mothers, can you imagine that this child is yours?
Why? Again, I ask, why? It seems to me that only the one of us who stands in Mary’s shoes has any standing to respond with any considerable answer. Anybody? Why?
As brothers and sisters, at least, certainly, we can recognize Mary our common mother, because, if for no other reason, Jesus is our brother.
We honor Mary with singular devotion because no ark has ever borne the Covenant like she did.