January 03, 2012
Mary the Mother of God [January 1, 2012]
I am quite certain that if you were chosen to help celebrate the one-hundredth birthday of your mother, you would go out of your way to do something really beautiful: if you had poetic leanings, you would write a panegyric. If you were a musician or a good singer, you would compose a piece of music that celebrated your other’s life, her holiness and accomplishments. If you had any skill at story telling and humor, you would insert some anecdotes that would delight all the relatives and friends who had gathered for the festive day. Some of those narratives might even be a bit apocryphal (fictional) but everyone in the gathering would know the meaning and context and would delight in hearing them once again. All of these things would be accomplished with great joy because your mother and her memory were precious to you, days never to be forgotten.
Well, my friends, this is exactly what Christians of the Eastern and Western churches (Roman and Byzantine) have been doing for centuries to honor Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary, the mother of God: churches and cathedrals have been built and named in her honor, musical compositions have praised her, artists have decorated churches with frescoes and mosaics, brilliantly colorful stones, bright stained glass windows. Nothing less than the best is considered worthy of God’s mother and her memory.
Interestingly, from a historical, biblical standpoint, there is not a lot is known about Mary’s life. True, we do have the splendid stories contained in the Nativity cycle, even references to her in the apocryphal gospels, those standing outside the circle of the four gospels we are so well acquainted with. Some of the narratives in our gospels are also written from a post-resurrection perspective, theological interpretations of what the life of Mary must have been like.
Nonetheless, there are also historical references in our gospels that give us a true sense of Mary the mother. We all remember the occasion when Mary and the rest of the family came out to where Jesus was preaching to rescue him from the angry mob that was about to kill him. Tell me, what mother would not be concerned about her son’s life, even if she could not explain why he was doing what he was doing. Often, she must have asked herself, “Is this the child I bore and raised? How come he turned out to be such a radical?” I’m sure all this must have been a mystery to her but, at the same time, she could not help but be proud of him.
Doubtless, the narrative of Mary at the foot of the cross must also be historically true. What mother would abandon her Son in the last moments of his life?
In some sense then our affection for Mary stems from the great mystery of her suffering. Her son was so unlike any other young man in Palestine; he threatened public authority of temple and palace he preached a message no one had ever heard before…the good news of he kingdom of God. He addressed Yahweh as his father? He was actually willing to sacrifice his life to help people understand that they were children of God, precious to the Father. What hubris unless it were actually true?
I think I must probably share the devotion and practice of most Catholics in the sense that Mary is my link to Jesus and the Father. She was human like we are human; she experieFnced the joys and the sadness that we all experience. But like all mothers she could not and did not abandon her son even though she could hardly understand his intent or his ways. Often she must have said, “Why can’t he just grow up normally like other young men?” Hindsight, of course, we must say that it was fortunate that he did not “grow up” like everyone else. He was born with a vision of life in the cosmos that no one else ever dreamed of.
So, let us not hesitate to say that Mary is not only Mother of the Redeemer, Mother of Jesus, Mother of God, but also especially the Pride of our Race. What a privilege, what a mystery to be chosen out of all other human creatures on earth to be he Mother of God, How fortunate we are to be privileged to be called sons and daughters of Mary the Mother of God.
Posted by Cindy Lentine on January 3, 2012 10:29 AM.