Wednesday, 30 September 2015


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  her Son. 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.

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