08 Oct “If you only knew how much I love you, you would cry with joy” – Mother Mary
“If you only knew how much I love you, you would cry with joy” – Mother Mary (21 Jun 1984 – Medjugorje)
Very few know her as Agnes Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, Sister Teresa or St. Teresa, but when you add the title Mother before Teresa, everybody instantly knows who you are referring to.
Saint Mother Teresa is one of the most renowned saints of our time, because Jesus did not just ask her to be a missionary (but specifically), a missionary mother! In response, the saintly lady opened her heart and took up a mother’s role, earnestly devoting herself (along with her nuns) to care for thousands of children, starting from India and spanning across the globe. This is why she is globally venerated as a motherly saint.
Nobody would be comfortable to use any other title, than Mother, when referring to Mother Teresa. It is not as much to do with the fact that she was a nun or the head of her congregation, but more because their hearts revere her as a real mother, to thousands of children – who were not her own.
Many of the present generation, love and have devotion to her, because they personally experienced her motherly love, while she was with us. In fact, being in an audience with Mother Teresa, would lead people to silently shed uncontrollable tears.
No one has ever hesitated to call her mother or seek her motherly intercession (from heaven), though she passed away two decades ago. This is precisely because we experienced her motherly love on earth, and so we continue to ask her for prayerful assistance from heaven.
Likewise (from the time of Jesus), we have a mother who existed way before Mother Teresa. While this generation is blessed to know Mother Teresa, it was only the early Christians, who were exceedingly privileged to know Mary, in person.
Starting with John and the apostles, the early Christians embraced Christ’s dear mum as their own, because they knew of the most perfect, splendid mother, who had unconditional love for them. This mother’s love was far greater than that of St. Mother Teresa’s and something no human being ever experienced.
Some Christians struggle to accept Mary as their mother, because they have not personally encountered her, yet we know (through the centuries) certain saints saw apparitions of Mary and were converted by the tender glowing love she had for them, which set them on fire. After only a few encounters with Mary, they led saintly lives – such is the powerful magnetizing effect of her love for us.
One of the reasonswe must devote ourselves to Mary, as our Mother, is because (like Mother Teresa and much more than her), Mary was also officially called to be a missionary mum as a young 14 year old.
God, asked Mary to forget herself and be devoted to Him and His people, by offering the most tender love a woman can give i.e. as a mother – beginning with Jesus and thereafter continuing her motherly obligation towards all of us! And we know that missionaries leave their own family, to care for multitudes of strangers, making them their new family.
While we are not fortunate to have the joy of experiencing Mary, yet through our knowledge i.e. an inner reflection on her life (as given below), we learn of her “servitude” dedication to all of us, as Mother of All Mankind.
- At the Annunciation: When the angel announced to the teenage Mary, that she was chosen to be the mother of God, she did not get dizzy headed, as any girl would. She did not jump and ecstatically exclaim, “How unbelievable and amazing, gawsh I am so lucky, let me inform my friends!” Nor did she make a remark to Gabriel, about the concern and troubles, she could face.
She said something, I have rarely heard anyone say, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38).
This means, she did not at all answer the call, based on the glory or danger that awaited her, nor was there an “I or me” in her thoughts. Her first and only concern was being fully disposed to God her Father, “My God, I am your handmaid, created to serve you. Your will is my foremost desire (before my own), even if it means extreme hardships! Do with me what You will. Here I am!”
Her only focus was, “If God desires this, I want to give it to Him; if it’s important to Him, it’s automatically THE MOST IMPORTANT thing for me. Not my safety, nor my life, but God’s salvific plan for His children – for they are first!”
- 2. The Visitation: Young Mary immediately went to meet Elizabeth after the angel departed. Being pregnant, she forwent her own difficulties, to assist her elderly pregnant cousin, who needed help. Here too, the concern and the “mother” in Mary, reaches out to the suffering needy. Though Elizabeth, enquired, “Why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Luke 1:43) and had not asked for Mary to come, yet Mary herself, wished to come and serve.
- 3. Mother of all missionaries: She was sent by God to be instrumental in baptizing the baptizer!
Due to Mary’s visit and because of her very presence, John (the Baptist), was baptized with the Holy Spirit and freed from original sin. This is because Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit and pregnant with Jesus. So Jesus’s mother, the first missionary went to prepare John, the second (to be) missionary for his important role – but why? To call all her children to straighten their path, so that they may be able to enjoy heaven one day.
- 4. Her sacrifice in allowing Jesus to leave her for mission for the sake of you and me:
Young Jesus stayed behind in the temple to preach to the teachers of the law. Though the sudden disappearance of Jesus for three days, caused Mary great pain, but Jesus was also preparing His mum for His own life’s mission. “Why were you looking for Me?” He asked. “Did you not know that I had to be in My Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).
Of course He was not at all “lost” for three days but He was touching upon the core of His mission work when, as a boy, He started preaching in His Father’s house (temple).
In this way, He was also giving her a foretaste of the pain of the “loss of Him” for three days, when, He would be snatched from life (and from her) but finally rise on the third day. It was during this time, that He would be at the core of His life’s mission, saving mankind (by His death), preaching again (to the dead) and taking all to His Father’s home (paradise).
In this way, He was also helping her realize, “Mum, though you and dad are My immediate beloved family, My people come first; in future, I will ALSO be leaving you and you must sacrifice our “together” time, for My Father’s work.”
So how does the widowed Mother of God respond, to her only Child?
At Canna, she goes ahead to inform Jesus that the wine was running out, but He remarked, “My time has not yet come!” Jesus was also saying, “Mum, it is not yet time for Me to start my work and leave you alone; we still have some more time to be together.”
Yet, her compassionate heart was responding, “Jesus, though I am a widow and you are my only and beloved Son, Your people come first. Start your mission now, even if You have to leave me alone, I will sacrifice for them.”
- 5. Approaching the King, through the merciful Queen Mother (even for trivial needs): When Jesus Himself did not consider or desire to perform a miracle at the wedding in Canna (providing wine for feasting is comparatively not as critical as healings and casting out demons, which were the future miracles of Jesus), nonetheless, Mary sensed our need, and took the lead.
“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” (Jn 2:4)
Knowing that Jesus’ first answer seemed like a refusal to Mary herself, yet for the sake of her children, she refused to take NO for an answer!
She wisely “showed” the stewards/us, the secret of God’s “weakness” and how to get Him to oblige i.e. “through a gesture of faith in action.”
When Jesus seemed uninterested to open the door of miracles, the quick thinking mother, helped the steward to get it opened in another way. She directed them to “put the ball in Jesus’ court” by asking the stewards to go to Jesus and be at His disposal. She knew that God cannot resist such bold acts of faith and that He would grant their wish.
As a mother, Mary understands our feelings, so she helped the couple and the guests gain some material extras (wine to enjoy) from God Himself! She knew the technique of reaching the heart of her King Son and promptly showed it to us.
Request her intercession for your trivial needs too, because she cares for you.
- 6. The Woman – The Great Sign: In the Old Testament, at the very beginning of creation, the first couple Adam and Eve, fell into a world of darkness and lost grace, when they sinned. It was then i.e. at the very beginning, that God, spoke about the Woman, when He said:
“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15)
This Woman –Mary, was chosen to be instrumental in assisting God to rescue mankind.
In the New Testament, at the very beginning, another newlywed couple (as recorded in John’s Gospel) fell into disgrace, at the onset of their married life.
It is also here, at the beginning of the New Testament, that the foretold “Woman” is called into the picture, to assist God in rescuing mankind, starting (symbolically) with the very “core of creation” i.e. the couple.
In the Jewish tradition, the to-be married couple has to spend a year preparing for their marriage ceremony and festivities. It was considered highly shameful, if after this preparation, they fell short in providing adequately for their wedding day.
Some scholars have also taken this to mean that this negligence (in spiritual terms) signifies that, the couple was not ready for the challenge of their married life and would have probably fallen apart, in the near future.
Mary steered the work of salvation, to start from this point. Besides urging Jesus to save them from the disgrace of running out of wine, more importantly and in a spiritual sense, she wanted Him to bless this new couple to live in grace and union with God, unlike the futile way Adam and Eve started out their life, by opposing God.
Symbolically, The Woman (who was perfect and won God’s favour) was sent by Him to lead this imperfect couple (i.e. the very core of creation), the right way back to God.
- 7. Willingly accepted her soul’s piercing by the sword – for our salvation: A simple man like Simon Peter boldly spoke up when he, took (Jesus) Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Far be it from You, Lord! he said. “This shall never happen to You! But Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me. (Matthew 16:22 -23). At the arrest of Jesus, he cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear but when he knew that Jesus was going to be taken in for trial, he fled in fear and abandoned Jesus.
Mary was the opposite; like Jesus, so was His mother…
…He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth. – Isaiah 53:7
She submitted to suffering in silence, she did not protest against the prophecy of His crucifixion, nor prevent His arrest by any revolt.
Yet, when she knew it was the time of His sacrifice, and being a female, she did not flee (as did most of the apostles); she was completely present and accompanied her Son throughout His Passion.
In fact, she was the very opposite of a stumbling block, she accompanied Jesus (though all abandoned Him), amidst a dark mob of insulting blood thirsty people, waiting to see Jesus slain. Empowered by the Spirit, she was the like a light (a second angel) who was sent to give Him renewed strength to complete His work of salvation – for us. Even though, she was trembling with anguish the whole time, as the very earth was quaking under her feet. Despite everything, she embraced Simeon’s prophecy and accepted the sword thrusting mercilessly and repeatedly, into her soul.
The Jews declare, “We have Abraham as our father.” Abraham is considered the father of many nations, because he was set right with God due to his faith.
Yet Abraham, had a wife (Sarah) and was eventually spared from sacrificing his son, Issac. However, it was (the weaker sex) Mary, who was widowed, with an only child, whose sacrifice was demanded, as it was more holy, painful and costly than Abraham’s. The fact that she too was like a lamb without blemish (sinless), it was more dear, an offering to God, who permitted for the sacrifice of her soul.
A prophecy about her was foretold not by a prophet, but by God the Father, Himself, from the beginning i.e. Genesis Chapter 3 verse 15.
For Christians, God instead offered the gift of a Mother (Mary) to us. Why?
She is the foretold one, who was sinless and set apart from the beginning of creation. Unlike Abraham (who was born a pagan and about whom there was no prophesy), she did not one day come to be at rights with God, some time later in her life’s journey. No, it was right from her conception, that she was at rights with God, because He created her perfect, sinless and pleasing to Him, to bear His Son.
He not only chose the best for His Son but chose the very same for His elect heritage i.e. Christians from His chosen race, Israel!
It is ironic, how Jews are so proud of Abraham, but the person who God so highly favoured amongst all creation, is not proudly considered by all Christians (except Catholics), as their mother. When we are given the best, we do not even regard and realize its worth!
- 8. Jesus officially made her our Mother: When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, “Woman, here is your son. Then He said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” So from that hour, this disciple took her into his home. (Jn 19:26-27)
While John and the rest of the disciples were not children, that they needed a mother and tradition holds that Mary sewed for a living, there was a reason why Jesus, gave the apostles and all Christians, His mom.
More than she needing a support (a son), it was these apostles (to begin with) who needed a powerful spiritual mum to provide courage and zeal for God.
Just like us, the disciples of Jesus were sinful human beings. As Jesus needed to live with them for three years, so that in His constant presence they would be transformed and cleaned by His words, similarly, Mary needed to live with her new children.
The apostles were only baptized with the Holy Spirit at Pentacost, but Mary was always filled with the Holy Spirit from conception. Therefore she gathered her children in the upper room and literally force-fed them with courage, (just as she encouraged her own Son in His Passion).
Her constant presence, love and exemplary life (reminded them of Jesus) and kept the fire of faithfulness (to Him), glowing in their souls as she led them into prayer, until Pentacost and there beyond.
At the cross itself, Jesus knew that even though He would resurrect, they would lose courage and decide to go back to their fishing profession, etc. Jesus appeared to them many times, but they were still afraid.
Since Jesus knew all this would happen, at the cross, He gave the gift of His mum, whose powerful strength would sustain them throughout their mission.
She is such a faithful Mother to Jesus! She did not only give Jesus the freedom to do His mission, but after His death (valuing the work He did) and because she loves Him, she continued to carry out the work He started. What a way to honour one’s child; by working to complete the mission He began. And that work is all about calling us back to be in eternal bliss in heaven.
- 9. Apparitions to her children: Over the centuries she has been appearing everywhere i.e. Guadalupe, Fatma, Lourdes, Medjugorje, La Salette and many other places, as a mother searching and yearning for all her children – just as a hen gathers her chicks beneath her wings.
Often in these apparitions, she has warned us of coming chastisements and that through her prayers, she begged God to spare us and thus He permitted her to appear to us, encouraging us to repent and be saved.
Through the centuries, she continues and will continue to appear to people, pleading and drawing men back to God.
So why should Christians dedicate and consecrate themselves to Mary as their mother?
- Firstly, the Father handpicked her and Jesus gave her to all of us, at His crucifixion.
- She encouraged Jesus, to bear His sufferings to free us.
- She willingly underwent persecutions and pain for us.
- She unselfishly hastened Jesus’ ministerial work because she loves us.
- Even in her own sufferings she reaches out to assist us, like the apostles and early Christians.
- When no one even calls for help, she comes to our rescue by noticing our problems (like at Canna) and asks Jesus for His help – even if these needs are trivial.
- When we are broken in spirit and fearful (like the apostles), she prays for us.
- She stirs her closest children, to go in search of our brothers and sisters “the lost sheep” and bring them home.
- She keeps searching for new saints through the years, imploring them to pray and turn to God, and blessing them with healings (like those at Fatima, Lourdes, Medjugorje) and joy.
If Mary knows how to serve God perfectly, as mother, she is the best way to lead us to Him!