Listen to Your Mother!
The words of Mary, the Mother of God, in the Gospels are very few. She is only recorded on four occasions. However, the words that we do hear from her are packed with meaning, truth, goodness, beauty, and love. A young girl from Nazareth, by her tremendous and admirable faith, said “yes” to the will of God in all things. She gave us, and continues to give us, a perfect model of humility and cooperation with God’s grace. We need to listen to our Mother.
When the angel Gabriel appeared to her to announce God’s plan of salvation, she did not try to argue with the angel, even though she lacked understanding. She listened and pondered the messenger’s words. She knew deep in her soul the truth of the angel’s final words: “For with God nothing will be impossible (Lk 1:37).” And so, her response, which ought to be our response to everything God asks, is, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).” This great faith communicates Mary’s perfect adherence to God’s will before her own, at all times.
Mary then goes to her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with St. John the Baptist, and greets her. Elizabeth compliments Mary for her great faith. Mary, always humble and docile to the will of God then delivers her Magnificat. In her great prayer of praise, the Magnificat, Mary gives us a version of the Song of Hannah from 1st Samuel and other Old Testament passages. It spans ten verses of the first chapter of Luke, but I want to briefly draw out the first line: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior (Lk. 1:46-7).” Mary is teaching us how to live an abundant life. She does God’s will and therefore her soul magnifies the Lord and she rejoices in God. The Lord God, who is greater than everything, is glorified when we do His will. I think this is partly what St. Irenaeus means when he says, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive.”
I think there is a great temptation to view all the saints, even the sinless Mother of God, as more than human. Even though Mary was without sin, this does not mean that she was all-knowing like God. When Jesus was twelve, He stayed behind in the Temple in Jerusalem and Mary did not know it. They had been journeying back to Nazareth for a day before she realized He was gone. It was a big caravan… So, she returned to Jerusalem and found Jesus in the Temple. She said to her Son, “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously (Lk. 2: 48).” Mary did not understand Jesus’ response that He must be in His Father’s house. So, if we ever feel like we do not understand, we can learn from Mary’s response to not understanding God’s will: “… his mother kept all these things in her heart (Lk. 2:51).”
The final time in the Gospels that we hear the words of the Mother of God are at the Wedding Feast at Cana. Jesus is now a grown man of thirty years. He and His mother went to a wedding as guests, when they learned that the wine had run out. Mary was so beautifully moved with pity for the young couple that she requested that Jesus do something about it. She knew that He could fix the problem. But, He knew that this public miracle would begin the inevitable road to Calvary and the Cross. Her final words written in the Gospel of John seem very simple. She says to the servants at the wedding: “Do whatever he tells you (Jn. 2:5).”
This simple command to the servants to take care of this young couple’s dilemma shows us the heart of the Mother of Jesus. In fact, this short phrase is the culmination of her life up to that moment and it looks forward as well to her willingness to allow Jesus to go to the Cross in obedience to the Father. Even the small things, like a shortage of wine, matter to our Blessed Mother. She loves us with the unconditional heart of a mother and she never ceases to offer prayers on our behalf to her blessed Son. This beautiful woman, our Heavenly Queen, shows us with her own life her willingness to do all that God ask of us. And she leaves us with an explicit command to do likewise. She is not only speaking to the servants at the wedding. She is speaking to me, her son, and you, her son or daughter: Do whatever He tells you. Let us all listen to our mother more closely.