My brother Peter got me thinking. When commenting on the Rosary he suggested we should view Salvation History through the eyes of Mary. So I wondered whether her life followed the pattern of St. Paul’s introduction to the famous hymn in his Letter to the Philippians.
This begins, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus…” (Philip. 2.5). That must have been especially true of His mother, Mary. She must have been especially in tune with Him.
This hymn begins with the Son of God becoming a human servant, obedient to His heavenly Father’s will; this is paralleled by Mary’s ‘Fiat’ to God. She played a vital part in God’s plan for our salvation. With that ‘YES’ she agreed to become the Handmaid of the Lord.
His obedience was “even unto death on the cross.” Mary made the same journey to Calvary and then stood by her crucified Son. She even offered His life for our salvation. As He became the Suffering Servant of the Lord she became the Suffering Handmaid of the Lord.
St. Paul’s hymn continues, “For which cause He has been given a name, which is above every other name –Lord of heaven and earth,” (cf. Philip. 2. 11). Mary has been assumed into Heaven and given a name, which is above every other name – Queen of Heaven and Earth.
Through this pattern of ascent the 2nd Adam and the 2nd Eve reverse the pattern of descent through the disobedience of the 1st Adam and Eve.
But it’s not enough for us simply to have the ‘mind of Christ.’ In his 1st letter St. John tells us our lives must follow the same pattern as Christ’s, “whoever claims to remain in Him must act as He acted,” ( I Jn. 2.6). We must not only hear His word, but do it. In John that word ‘remain’ is loaded. It implies a permanence and stability, and, therefore, commitment. Also to ‘remain in’ implies a relationship as intimate as that between the Father and His Son.
We have been called to enter into that relationship. Sharing their life means a harmony of will, having the mind of Christ and, therefore, acting as He acted. That was true for Jesus in His obedience to His Father’s will; that was true for His mother; that must be true for us, His followers.
Like the young Samuel’s, our response must be, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening,’ ( 1 Sam 3. 9). That was echoed by Mary’s, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord. Be it done unto me according to your word, (Lk. 1. 38). As for Jesus, we only have to think of His, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me. Nevertheless, let your will be done, not mine,” (Lk. 22.42).
The docility to God’s will, which underlies all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, demands a strength of character, an open generosity in self-giving –the opposite to self-centred grabbing. It’s a call to service, not dominance.
Having the mind of Christ means, in the words of St. Paul, ‘….since you have been raised with Christ, strive for theHYPERLINK "/greek/3588.htm" HYPERLINK "/greek/3588.htm"things above, where Christ is seated at the right haHYPERLINK "/greek/1188.htm"nHYPERLINK "/greek/1188.htm"d of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.… (Col. 3. 1-2). This text implies an ascent in our perspective, in our values, in our decisions, in our actions. Since these run contrary to our fallen nature, they will involve the cross of self-sacrifice, self-denial, unselfishness. Or put positively, we have been called to share Christ’s generous self-giving, His serving.
St. Paul sums all this up beautifully. God has uttered an eternal ‘Yes’ to our creation, an eternal ‘Yes’ to our salvation. Through Jesus we welcome God’s plan for us with a heart-felt ‘Yes.’ And so St. Paul writes, “For all the promises of God are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him, our “Amen” is spoken to the glory of God,” (2 Cor. 1. 20).
A final thought: while as a child Jesus walked in the footsteps of Mary, His mother. Then, later on, Mary, as did His disciples, walked in His footsteps as she followed Him in His joys, His sorrows and His glory.
Isidore Clarke, O.P.