“And Jesus, seeing his mother there, and the disciple, too, whom he loved, standing by, said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is thy son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘This is thy mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own keeping.” Jn. 19: 26-27
If your best friend was on his death bed and told you to have his mother as if she were your own, what would you do?
Would you refuse him, telling him that you only want a personal relationship with him? Or would obey your dear friend’s dying wish and open your heart and your home to the woman who devoted her life to caring for your friend?
This is what Christ himself bid us as he hung on the Cross of Salvation. He told John the Beloved Disciple that Mary – the woman whom the angel Gabriel greeted, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women” – is to be his mother and John is to be her son.
I was only mildly surprised to see such an outpouring of vitriol towards Our Lady when CNA published a story about Pope Francis exhorting Christians to seek God through His Mother. For some, this may sound like a shocking, even idolatrous thing to do. How can we honor someone who is not God? Doesn’t this detract from one’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ?
Does a young man detract from his personal relationship with his girlfriend when he asks her father for his blessing on the young man’s intended marriage proposal to his girlfriend? Does a woman detract from her personal relationship with her husband if she honors her mother in-law by giving her a Christmas present?
Some commenters likened Marian devotions such as praying the Rosary and adorning statues of Christ’s Mother with flowers to idolatry.
Christians hold Mary in high esteem because she was the one God set apart to be the vessel for the Word made Flesh. For the first nine months of the Savior’s earthly life, his home was Mary’s womb. For the first 33 years of the Savior’s earthly life, his home was Mary’s home.
Just think about that, Jesus Christ, the Lord of lords and King of kings, the Savior of the world, spent more of his time on earth in the care of Mary than he did performing miracles or preaching.
And now people say that we should cast this woman aside as if she had no role in Christ’s formation?
The disciples, Christ’s closest friends and followers, did not cast Mary aside after Christ ascended into Heaven and we certainly shouldn’t either.
When we pray to Mary, we are not worshiping her, but giving her reverence and asking for her powerful intercession knowing that she is in Heaven and truly is “blessed among women.” By praying to her, we learn from her example of piety, humility and total dependence on God.
When we invoke her intercession, we recognize the intimate relationship Our Lady has with God. She knows Him better than any other human and can present our prayers in a way that is most pleasing to God. Have you ever asked a close friend or pastor to pray for you knowing that they had a good relationship with God? Imagine how much more powerful prayers coming from God’s own Mother would be!
This is how we honor Mary, we give her the reverence that she is due because of her humility before God. Mary never takes credit for herself, but rather, she always points us to the One who preserved her from sin in order to make a channel through which He could become Flesh.
And remember, none of us can love Mary more than Jesus Christ did.