When you think about powerful women, who first comes to your mind?
A CEO? A queen? A ruler? A military leader?
National Geographic magazine’s December 2015 issue calls Mary, Mother of God, “The Most Powerful Woman in the World”, with an image of Mary on the front cover. Imagine that: Mary, the Mother of God, on the front cover of National Geographic magazine! The feature article is quite extensive. In it, the reporter travels to some Marian apparition sites, and writes about the impact that Mary has had on the world since the beginning of Christianity.
The New Testament records Mary’s visit with Elizabeth, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, her part in the miraculous changing of water into wine at Cana, her presence at the foot of the cross on which Christ died, and with the Apostles in the upper room on Pentecost.
Let’s think about her time in Bethlehem. We know from Scripture that she and Joseph had to stay in a stable, a manger, because there wasn’t any room in Bethlehem due to a census that had brought in an influx of people. She gave birth to the Son of God in a humble, simple manger—where animals were kept. She lay on hay, and the baby Jesus lay in a trough. Here we see the love and mercy of God; to give us His Son through a young woman (a virgin), born like us—human in the midst of disarray. Can we imagine that stable with Mary and the baby Jesus? With Joseph looking on, caring for them? Would you imagine an incredible peace there?
Mary is with Jesus throughout his life—from the wood of the trough/manger to the wood of the Cross, where she stands and Jesus says to us, “Behold you mother.”
Do you think of Mary as a woman whose name has come down to us in history merely because she happened to be the mother of Jesus Christ? Is that all that she means to us in this day and age?
Let us hope that we can discover what the saints and popes through the centuries have discovered about Mary.
We know that there are a few passages in Scripture that speak to us about Mary. Beyond that, there have been volumes written about her by numerous faithful authors throughout the history of the Church. There are thousands of churches named after her, all over the world. The saints all had a great love and devotion to her.
Mary is the crowning glory of God’s creation, the most favored of all humans, and yet she did not live in luxury and comfort. She lived a relatively poor life, only wanting to be “the handmaid of the Lord”. In Mary, we see God’s wisdom in His plan for humanity. For, as with Mary, God also expects to be first in our lives; that we totally trust in Him in all things—especially those things we don’t understand.
This brings us to Mary at the foot of the cross. Before Jesus dies, he says, “Woman, behold your son.” And to John, “Behold your Mother.” The Church has always taught that, when Jesus gave his mother to John, he was—in reality—giving her to the Church; to you and me. Mary was present in the upper room with the apostles when the Holy Spirit descended upon them and the Church was born. Mary is the Mother of the Church according to the order of grace. It is God’s will that all grace come to us through the Mother of Jesus, whom Jesus has given to us, to be our mother. It is Mary’s desire that we approach her as our mother to receive the help that she wishes to give us. This is confirmed in her apparitions, especially when she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in 1561. She said:
Do not fear…Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.
Would you like to “meet” Mary? The Pilgrim Center of Hope offers Evenings with Mary on specific dates in various Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. For a list of those dates and locations, visit our website.