Before Mass this morning, I walked around the grounds of St. John’s as I said my Morning Prayer. Just as I finished, I walked by the grotto here and was struck by its beauty. I took a couple shots which I think turned out really well.
I love the way the light is gently covering Mary in this one. It is so fitting for her–our gentle and loving Mother.
Our Mother. She became the Mother of us all at the foot of the cross. When all other of Jesus’ disciples had abandoned him out of fear, there his Mother remained with St. John, Mary of Magdala, and another Mary.
John 19: 26-27
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
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.”
Here Jesus gives one of his greatest treasures to his beloved disciple–his very own Mother. And in doing so, he gave Mary to be the Mother of the Church…of the World.
As Catholics, we do not worship Mary but we are deeply grateful to Jesus for sharing his Mother with us. We honor her just as God honored her in sending his angel Gabriel (meaning “messenger”) to greet her with the message, “Hail (Rejoice/Be Glad) Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you!” (Luke 1:28). We honor her just as Elizabeth honored her saying, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42).
Some point to a scene in Mark chapter 3, as a moment when Jesus downplays the importance of his Mother. Here Mary and Jesus’ cousins (Referred to as “brothers” here because the Hebrew culture did not have the word or really concept of “cousin.” All relatives were just referred to as “brothers”/”siblings”) were waiting outside of a home asking for Jesus. The disciples tell Jesus that his Mother and “brothers” are looking for him to which he responds,
“(For) whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother” (3:35).
Rather than rejecting Mary as his Mother in that moment or even downplaying her role as Mother, Jesus is reaffirming the Motherhood of Mary. For who more than her opened her heart to the will of God?
When God wanted to bring to fruition his plan for the world since the beginning of time, he came to her saying, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, […] and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end. The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.“
Confronted with such a mind-boggling proposition…something defying the logic of the world…something fully incomprehensible to the human mind…how did she respond?
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
And with her “YES,” the door was opened. She conceived a child in that moment with her YES, and history itself changed forever. Emmanuel… Wondercounselor… Christ… Messiah… Lion of Judah… King of Kings… Prince of Peace…the Word…was made Flesh in her womb. Such that the Flesh of Jesus IS the Flesh of Mary. Through her YES, Jesus came to us. And through her YES, Jesus continues to come to us.
So we have Mary as our Model of the Christian life. For ultimately, God wants to do in us exactly what he did in Mary–Fill us with the Holy Spirit…so much so that God himself unites himself to our Flesh and Blood. So that we become the Body of Christ…His Flesh and Blood for the World. However, he will never force this upon us. But always, He stands at the doors of our hearts, gently knocking…sending a host of angels…inviting us to take part in the Mystery of his Love. But it is only our YES…following the perfect example of Mary, Our Loving, Gentle, and Patient Mother, that opens that door to the Will of God. The more we say Yes…the more we open ourselves to the Will of God in our lives…the more God is able to unite himself to our person…our body and soul…and thus…the more we truly become the “mothers, sisters, brothers” of Jesus.
So Yes…we honor Mary, but only because she brought us Jesus and continues to POINT us…to carry us to Him. Just as she told the servants at the wedding feast in Cana, she gives her best advice to us today, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).
All true Devotion to Mary leads to Jesus. And so the ancient Christian tradition continues today: To Christ through Mary. If we run to her, she will never fall to take us to her Son. Nobody knows a Son like His Mother. Nobody can get the attention of a Son better than His Mother. And Nobody is prouder and more eager to share their Son, than their Mother. So who could be better to help us follow, know, and love Jesus than his Mother?
Here are some folks here at St. John’s that seem to understand all of this all too well: The Rosary Club.
They Pray the Rosary every day after 9AM Mass. Except on Wednesday’s they pray it at 5PM just before Benediction and Mass.
The Rosary is ultimately a meditation on the life of Jesus. It is a powerful prayer that has been near and dear to the life of the Saints for centuries. In this prayer, we turn to Mary to help us to enter more deeply into the Mystery of Her Son Son’s Conception, Life, Death, and Resurrection.
It was the favorite prayer of Blessed Pope John Paul II and has grown to be near and dear to me as well. In a letter he wrote about the Rosary, he states:
The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: ‘In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words’ (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”.
It is worth pausing to consider this profound insight of Paul VI, in order to bring out certain aspects of the Rosary which show that it is really a form of Christocentric contemplation.
Again, Contemplating Jesus is key.
Here is a link to the entire letter he wrote about the Rosary.
If you would like to learn how to pray the rosary, here are two helpful websites:
Have a great night ya’ll.
To Jesus through Mary,
Let’s aim to do whatever he tells us.