Our Devotion to Mary

Recently, Fr. Steven has used a title for Mary that I had never heard before. Though I don’t think it is technically an “official” title, there is definitely substantial and defensible biblical basis for it. I am not sure whether it was last weekend or some time before that, but he referred to Mary as “the Gift of Jesus from the Cross,” or something close to that. I feel that is a particularly good entry point to Marian devotion.

Devotion to Mary is extremely popular among those who take our Catholic faith seriously, and there are extremely good reasons for that. While reverence for Mary’s role in the story of our salvation is requisite, and indeed very helpful in the spiritual life, reverence for the woman who was Jesus’s earthly mother can be difficult to either explain or foster.

Fr. Steven’s reference to Mary as “the Gift of Jesus from the Cross,” of course, refers to the Gospel of John and his account of the moment Jesus tells Mary to see in John her son, and John to see Mary as his own Mother. There are a few points of interest here to unpack on Mother’s Day.

Most importantly, there is an important identification we ought to make with John. In the biblical text, John refers to himself almost exclusively as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” Fr. Steven makes this a point of particular interest: we should be readily able to identify with John in specifically that phrase. We must learn to place ourselves in his role, perhaps in every one of those instances. Until we can see ourselves as beloved of Jesus, we must pray for the grace to begin to see ourselves as He sees us.

Once we are able to see ourselves in John’s place, we should reevaluate Jesus’s words, based on the truth that He is speaking to us individually and corporately. First, he places John, and us, in Mary’s care. Her faith is to be for our benefit and her steadfastness is to gain grace and blessing for us, who are in her care. Second, he places us under the care of his own Mother.

The lesson is not that Jesus thought highly of John, and thought he would make sure his mother was provided with her needs. Remember, Jesus entrusted us to her first, so it was not her needs that were of primary concern. I think He trusted that she who said “yes” to the Father’s messenger was already in good hands.

Our role, then, is to cherish, revere, love and protect her. We are the feeble ones in this relationship; for Jesus, Mary was completely capable. So, it is not a weak or ailing woman Jesus gives to us. Rather, we are to look to her authority in the spiritual walk, to see in her a prime exhibit of love of God, trust in His Providence, and faith in the Son. Jesus is telling us to behave for our spiritual mother, to mind her lessons.

Lastly, I want to spend a moment on the statement that follows these words of Jesus. We are told that, “from that hour, the disciple took her into his home.” Is Mary to merely live in our home then?

In part, but perhaps like the manner in which we welcome Jesus under our roof in Communion. It is our part to welcome her as our spiritual superior, to be hospitable, and honor her with our best efforts to act on her Son’s command. She is there to see that we are growing in the Christian life, that our love is like that of her Son, whose love she knows better than all other loves.

It is not enough to have Mary simply “boarding” in our hearts. She is to have the place of honor. In my home growing up, everything was ordered to please Mom, including and especially Dad’s discipline. If I offended my mother, there were sure consequences. Mary is supposed to be the queen of the household of our heart. Our concern is to please her, and nothing does that more than the best love, faith and worship for Jesus that we can muster.

This May, and this Mother’s Day, consider how you are treating your Blessed Mother. How well do you heed her instruction, especially that to, “do whatever He tells you”?

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