Why would John’s Gospel place the following quote of Our Lord Jesus at the height of his Passion and Death; his final act from the Cross before handing over the Spirit?
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
Is this simply the act of a loving son, ensuring his mother’s well-being before his death?
Perhaps not. When we look at the actions of Mary in Scripture, we realize how significant a role she has in the life of her Son & his disciples:
- She is the first person in the New Covenant demonstrating a willingness to cooperate with God’s will (cf. Luke 1)
- She is the first person in the New Covenant who is filled with the Holy Spirit (cf. Luke 1)
- Her first physical act in the Gospel is to serve someone in need (cf. 1:39)
- She kept and reflected on God’s action in her family’s life. (cf. Luke 2:51)
- Noticing a need in their community, she prompted Jesus to perform his first public miracle, with cooperation from the servants at her instruction to “do whatever he tells you.” (cf. John 2)
- She is present during Jesus’ public preaching ministry. (cf. Matthew 12:46, Mark 3:31, Luke 8:19)
- She is one of the few people still present, at his Cross. (cf. John 19:25)
- She has a noted presence with the first Christian community at Jerusalem, awaiting the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit. (cf. Acts 1:14)
Mary was a “young virgin” from Nazareth; a small town. In other words, she was a “nobody from nowhere.” Yet, when we look at her with the eyes of the heart, we see Mary’s cooperation with the Father’s will, her relationship with Jesus, and her prayer life in the Holy Spirit, and her simple love for others. In other words, we see her as the primary, model Christian.
For this reason, it is a mistake for us to approach Mary from either extreme: dismissive or intimidated. When we encounter Mary of Nazareth with the eyes of our heart, Christians can discover a spiritual mother who gently points us toward her Son.
On January 1, Pope Francis said:
At the beginning of the year, we, as Christians on our pilgrim way, feel the need to set out anew from the center, to leave behind the burdens of the past and to start over from the things that really matter. Today, we have before us the point of departure: the Mother of God. For Mary is what God wants us to be, what he wants his Church to be: a Mother who is tender and lowly, poor in material goods and rich in love, free of sin and united to Jesus, keeping God in our hearts and our neighbor in our lives. […]
Devotion to Mary is not spiritual etiquette; it is a requirement of the Christian life. Looking to the Mother, we are asked to leave behind all sorts of useless baggage and to rediscover what really matters. The gift of the Mother, the gift of every mother and every woman, is most precious for the Church, for she too is mother and woman. While a man often abstracts, affirms and imposes ideas, a woman, a mother, knows how to “keep,” to put things together in her heart, to give life. If our faith is not to be reduced merely to an idea or a doctrine, all of us need a mother’s heart, one which knows how to keep the tender love of God and to feel the heartbeat of all around us.
Dear Jesus, I believe in eternal life through your love, starting with my life right here and now. This year, I want to follow you even better than before. Please help me to encounter your mother as my spiritual mother. Mary, as you praise God from heaven, pray that I would see God’s love for me, today, and every day.
Invitations: Encounter Mary
Tune in as we “Meet Mary” online, on TV, and via radio next week.
Learn more about the Scriptural Praise of Mary during an Evening with Mary at Saint Monica Church in Converse, Texas, Thursday, January 18 at 7pm. This simple, mini-conference is a time to learn, grow in your prayer life, ask questions, and encounter Jesus through the heart of our spiritual mother.