Hardly a moment passed when my mother wasn’t taking care of me, with an anxious, unspoken, concern that I should come to no harm. She was past ninety years of age and I was in my sixties when she still fussed that I had got my shirt buttons out of alignment or that a strategic zip was not fulfilling its purpose.
For me she was never an interfering nuisance. I meant so much to her that she could never surrender that sensitive concern that came so naturally to her once she was aware that I had taken up residence in her womb!
As for Mother Mary.... No-one will ever comprehend what it meant for Mary to be mother of Jesus, her infant, her child, her adolescent boy, and maturing adult. Mary’s Son was God – Son of the Most High –truly, fully, human, truly, fully, divine.
With her own eyes, with her own ears, with the whole of her being Mary, was aware of the fragility of her Son from the time He was crying to be nursed at her breast to the time when He thirsted for a drink as He hung on a cross.
In the early days of His public ministry Mary must have felt nothing but pride at the crowds gathering to hear the inspiring preaching of her own boy; satisfied at seeing His love-filled kindness towards everyone He met; and amazed, even startled, at His wondrous power to heal those with incurable ailments.
How great must have been her sadness as she came to hear of murmuring of dissatisfaction with
Some, including prominent religious leaders – Scribes, Pharisees, even High
Priests, were jealous of the acclaim He was receiving and angry at His
exposing their shallow insincerity.
It would seem that once Jesus embarked upon His public ministry Mary had to steel herself, compose herself, to ‘journey with Him.’ She had to adapt her thinking, her feelings, to His. This, as we shall now see, must have required of her outstanding spiritual courage.
What a turnabout for her, a woman of loyalty to her people, to have to approve of the way Jesus deliberately mixed with those who were despised for their collaboration with the oppressive Roman forces who occupied their land – the tax-collectors who twisted money out of their impoverished pockets!
Yet more difficult must it have been for her to have to accept the reputation Jesus was earning for Himself by allowing loose-living people to flock around Him.
Mary had to go along with the explanation Jesus Himself gave, “ It is not the healthy who need the doctor, but the sick. I came to call not the upright, but sinners,'( Mk.2.17). If He was to affirm their human dignity and convince them they were meant for a better way of life, He had to meet them where they were.
Time came when religious and civil authorities were scheming against Jesus, even to kill Him. To them He was a political rabble-rouser who had to be stifled. Restless crowds were too eager to hear His teaching, as He claimed for Himself the authority to tell them how they ought to live, how they ought to be treated with respect.
In the Gospels Jesus warned His disciples three times that He would be arrested, ill-treated and put to death. He must have talked this over with His mother. How should she have reacted? Not as did Peter who vehemently exploded, ‘'Heaven preserve you, Lord, , 'this must not happen to you,' (Mtt.16.22)!
At this point I am reminded of the admonition St. Paul gave to the Philippians, “Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus,:” (2.6) In her own way Mary had to share in the Gethsemane anguish of her Son who prayed , “'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Nevertheless, let it be as you, not I, would have it,' (Mtt.26.39).
This October, the Month of the Rosary, I invite you to take to heart the words of Pope Saint John Paul II.
" To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ….With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.”
Peter Clarke, O.P.