I want to tell you about my Mother Mary, and about how I never could love her until recently, even though I was brought up a Catholic.
When it comes to the Mother of my Lord, I had always felt a distance. Though I have respected her, and admired her for her fidelity and obedience to God, I have never felt a sense of closeness to her. So whenever I know of people with great love and devotion to Mary, I never could understand.
It didn’t help that as I grew up, I heard so many attacks against Mary. Or, more accurately, criticisms from Protestants about the veneration that Catholics give Mary. Even though I knew our doctrinal stand, that we certainly do NOT worship Mary (and hence it is not idolatry), I begun, deep down to also wonder why so much honour is given to Mary. Yes, I have heard and read all the arguments – I know the teachings of the Church. But because they all stayed at the level of my head, I continued to keep her at arms length.
But now the eyes of my heart has been opened! Now I understand that poor Mother Mary has been misunderstood by me and so many others. She had never asked for any of this! She never asked to be God’s mother. Why would she want to conceive out of wedlock when she could have been stoned to death for it? And why would she have volunteered to mother a child whom she would have to give up for the world? When Jesus was creating controversy during His ministry – when people were divided about Him, would she not have also been ridiculed and criticized by those who wanted to kill Him?
How many mothers can bear to watch the execution of their beloved son? Mary was with Jesus every step of the way to Calvary. She watched Him struggle with the cross and she was there when they nailed Him to the cross. I ask you – especially you mothers out there – can you bear to see your son in such agony? Would not your heart be broken into a million pieces? And yet Mary never spared herself the pain – she was at the foot of the cross and wept with Jesus for 3 hours before He died. Such is the love of our Lord’s mother for Him. If we love our Lord – how can we not love the mother who loved Him so much?! Can you now understand why the apostles and the early Christian Church revered and loved Mother Mary so much? Because to them Jesus was so real – so near to them… and Mary, especially when she lived among them – was Jesus’ Mother, and the mother who died in her heart along with Him. How could they love Jesus and not love and honour the mother of their Lord and Saviour?
Just as Mary never asked to be God’s mother, so it is that she never desired any of the glory and honour that her Son gave her. If Jesus Christ had not given Mary to the world when He was on the cross, I do not know if she would be half as honoured or attacked as she is today. But the fact is that Mary is the most reviled person in all of Christianity. For every one person who loves her, there are many more who refuse to acknowledge God’s glory in her.
I wonder why I never understood earlier that by refusing to honour Mary, I am refusing to honour God. Because Mary has only ever been God’s humble hand-maiden. All she has done is to diminish herself so much, become so little, that the light of God’s glory shine uninhibited through her soul. When we look at Mary, we give glory and praise to God for how holy she is! For we know that she could not have been so obedient and faithful if not for the grace that GOD had given her. We know that she could not have had the courage to walk with Christ and stay with Him at His death, if not for that same grace. So what is there not to love in Mary, when every thing points to the glory of God?
Jesus Christ loves both His Father and His Mother intimately. He has always said He is one with his Father. And He loves His Mother so much He gave her to the world because He knew that most of us would never have an earthly mother who could love us as unconditionally as Mary loved Him. He gave Mary to us so that we would have a mother who prays unceasingly for us even when we spread calumny against her and refuse to love her. How is it that we Christians can think that to refuse to honour Mary is not a sin against our Lord? How is it that we can think that our praise and worship of God can be full-hearted and complete when we refuse to acknowledge the beauty of His masterpiece? It is like praising Leonardo da Vinci while refusing to acknowledge the Mona Lisa. Or honouring Michaelangelo while ignoring his work in the Sistine Chapel. Any Art Historian would say doing so is unthinkable! And yet, we Christians continue to praise the wonder of our God while refusing to acknowledge the human soul to which He had given the most honour.
For isn’t it true that we believe nothing that we have is of our own merit? That everything is given by God? If that is true, then when we see something great in nature, especially a person, do we not direct our praise to God? Do you not think that God rejoices when we celebrate His creatures?
So it is that nothing about Mary is merited by her. Not her grace, not her holiness, not her obedience. For all is given by God. When we honour her, we honour God’s generosity! Then what is there to fear about acknowledging and echoing the love and honour that our own Lord Jesus Christ has given His Mother? Do we reject Christ’s gift of His mother?
Nearly 2 months ago now, when I was healed of my broken relationship with God the Father and with myself, the very next broken relationship that God healed me of was the one with Mother Mary. To me that shows how important God views this relationship. And though I was reluctant at the time, now I dance with joy that Christ had shared Mary with me to be my spiritual mother and tender hiding place. God showed me that in loving and honouring Mary, I love and honour Him more, not less.
So now I no longer run away from my Mother Mary. Now I run eagerly to hold her hand and to listen to all the wonderful things she can tell me about my Lord Jesus. Now I can experience the completeness of being loved by Father, Mother and Brother as I journey with them in my heart and at my side.