In this month of May which is the month of our Blessed Lady, Mary the Mother of Jesus Christ our Lord, and Saviour we place all the children of the world in her care. One
may well ask why? Mary who is our Spiritual Mother, leads us to her son Jesus Christ; she is like a good fisherman who lets the line out so far but who knows when to reel it in. Mary protects us and teaches us the right way to live our lives.
Mary's life and Mission
The story of Mary is so inextricably entwined with the story of Jesus and our faith, as to be almost one. She was His mother, gentle guide and companion until his death. In the
bible, in our mass devotion to her and in her apparations, she has been revealed to us as a unique person or entity in herself. The human side of her is evident, enabling us to empathise with her role, her own challenges and tasks; as we believe that she empathises
Mary, her parents, and Joseph were incredibly brave people; brave to the point of being divinely driven by the Holy Spirit, guiding them on their mission. After the Annunciation, Lk 1:26-38 Mary at some point had to inform her parents that
she was pregnant. And you could imagine a tense scene not so long ago in Ireland if a young girl sat her unsuspecting parents down to tell them that she was expecting. Would she have been placed in the care of the Holy Sisters? Would she have been placed in
the care of a relation abroad?
Mary knew that she was on a predetermined path, but perhaps this did not preclude her having concerns about the impact of her news upon Joseph, her bethroated. Indeed, the honest fellow displayed his instinctive human
reaction when he initially withdrew from the marriage arrangement, illustrating just how real this scenario must have been. But, after the Angel appeared to him in a dream, Joseph stayed and never walked away, again. Mt. 1:18-24
No ordinary young couple
is fully prepared for the impact of a young baby into their lives; and so it was for Mary and Joseph. On top of the dramatic change in personal circumstances, there was colossal hardship; fear and terror involved at the beginning for the young couple and,
later, the Holy Family. Walking when 'near-term' is difficult enough, but having to deport yourself on the back of a mule over rocky roads, for several days and many miles must have been complete agony. To find not a place in an inn at the end of the gut-wrenching
journey would have been deflating, but not as degrading as the offer of a place in a stable. At least, that is how I might have felt initially. If I was Mary, I probably would have understood and accepted with grace, the propriety of it all; there amid the
peace and quiet, in the company of simple animals, with a loving man beside her, bundling the straw and clothes around; and preparing a humble but nourishing meal with all that he had at his disposal. Lk. 2:1-7
The birth should have been difficult in
those circumstances but Jesus was delivered safely. For at least twelve days, Joseph and Mary and Jesus enjoyed a period of relative calm, culminating in the visit of the distinguished Wise men. Lk.1:15-16, Mt.2:1-12 But then, the reality of bringing her special
child up in a tough and unyielding world intruded once more; they had to flee the wrath of a vicious and demented ruler; a mass murderer of innocents. Mt. 2:13-15, 16-17
Mary, the Immaculate Conception, was aware of her role. She had the fortitude to
take most of what lay ahead of her on board. Yet, the bible allows for insights of a human mother's normal anxieties when bringing up a child, a son, a young man. When He was twelve, Jesus disappeared for three days. In today's world, filled with depravity,
a mother will contact the police within hours of her young child going missing. As a society, we have shared in the anxiety of missing children, the dreadful wait for news of the worst kind. Eventually Jesus was found, safe; but He had to remind His mother
that she need not have worried. What exactly would He have said to her? 'You of all people must have known that I was engaged on my Father's business; there was no need for you to worry?' Lk. 2:41-51
Mary did worry. The period of her Son's wrongful
capture, torture and horrifying death must have been as excruciating as the pain endured by Him. If she had indeed known from before he was even born that she would be standing at the foot of his cross, thirty-three years later, then her life must have been
filled with a painful resignation.
As he was dying, Jesus turned to His mother, and John his disciple. He addressed them both: "Woman, this is your son." Then to the disciple he said: 'This is your mother." And from that hour John took her into his
The relevance of Mary today
The world today might have more modern ways of travel, communications, light and production; there are great riches. But regrettably, it has retained its
desire for power, war and genocide; there is great poverty. Even more, we turn to Mary, because we know in our hearts that she will listen to us and understand our entreaties.
We have many images of Mary. She is eternally present in our lives, not just
from our teachings on the holy bible, but through the beautiful visions and appearances she has made to young children especially, since her own death and the death of Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
During the 'why Mammy' months and years of our innocence,
we ask about Mary and are told of her divine existence in our daily lives, from the wonderful story of the nativity, through to the tragedy but ultimate triumph of Easter. Clasping our rosary beads in our hands at first communion, we pray to Mary, our Heavenly
Mother, her image indelibly imprinted on our hearts.
As teenagers, even when we are at our most rebellious, how can we reject the influence of our spiritual mother? Is it possible to deny her desire to be by our sides even when life appears to challenge
our beliefs? Our existence? Her's is a very 'modern' story.
When your child is wrongfully accused and tortured by a brutal enemy, Mary will know how you feel. When he is wrenched from your side and inhumanely slaughtered, she will understand your excruciating
pain and dreadful loss. When you still find it within your heart to pray to God, and his Son, and your Holy Mother, she will help you, as Jesus comforted her when He was dying.
When you contemplate the body of your child, before being finally laid to
rest, she will hold you and support you in your hour of need.
The devotion to Jesus and Our Blessed Lady is demonstrably evident around the world during Easter. During the Easter Vigil in Spain this year, we witnessed five babies being baptised. After
the Mass, the priest asked the parents of the newly baptised infants a question. A few minutes later he took each little baby, and brought them in his arms over to an image of Our Lady on the altar. He held them up one at a time before the image and presented
them to Our Blessed Lady. These young parents wanted to have their newly baptised babies placed under the watchful eye of Our Lady. It was a very moving experience.
With his dying words to His mother, Jesus gave her to us as mother of the Church.
This month as we continue to pray for all God's little ones around the world let us place them under the protection
of Mary and ask her to guard and protect each and every little one.