Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
A reflection on the word “MOTHER”
Mother. A multitude of emotions are attached to that word, universal and yet uniquely built on each individual’s life experiences.
Mother conjures up flashes of childhood memories: bedtime stories and birthday parties, learning to swim, to ride a bike, and then letting go of mother’s hand to spend the night at a friend’s house for the first time. High school and learning to drive, wanting freedom and then wanting to be held after a ruined friendship, hurt feelings, a day that seems like the end of the world.
Mother is there for all of it, good and bad, ups and downs, bound by heartstrings that we often take for granted until we are called to that same path and gaze upon our own child. Then we understand it all in a whole new way: an immeasurable love that guides us as we learn by trial and error how to fill the same role in a new way, a new world, a new reality. So much joy! First smiles, first words, first steps. So much anxiety! First fever, first fall, first fight.
My favorite scene in The Passion is the flashback Mary has of Jesus scraping his knee as a child. Mary rushes to Jesus’s side to comfort him. I like to think of Mary that way, the humanness of their relationship, the everyday mothering that still continues today: boo-boos and washing and preparing meals.
Mary taught Jesus to walk. She listened to his jokes, and told him stories. And she lost track of him for a bit when all the cousins got together. (Take a parent’s normal panic over losing track of a child and add on the image of God showing up and asking where his son is!)
I like to think about her cuddling him in her lap and telling him stories, of making him wash behind his ears, and sewing his clothes. But I also like to think about later years, that sweet time when a boy develops into a man, but still needs his mama, and wants to take a walk with her down a country road, or have a chat in the shade of an old oak tree.
Mary watched Jesus grow up and nudged him onto his path at the wedding in Cana, then stood aside likely knowing where his path would lead. Did Jesus tell her what was going to happen? Did they lie on a hillside under the stars at night and confide in each other?
As Catholics, we have been raised to understand Mary in that endearing way. We embrace her not only because of the important role she played, but because we know she can sympathize with our family problems.
Christians often ask, “What would Jesus do?” But I also like to ponder, “What would Mary do?” because she understands the demands of motherhood. Mary has walked this path and knows there is nothing more challenging or more rewarding for a woman than being a mother.
images in this post are from the movie The Passion of the Christ