Monday, August 28, 2006

Mary, Our Mother

By Paul Dion, STL

I was sitting in church the other morning, half listening to the Sacred Scripture readings for the day and half thinking of the blog that has been an earworm for me for the last week when something happened. The homily began and after about two sentences I realized that I had missed something very interesting. The Spirit awakened me and here is the result.

Mt 20:20-23

”The mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Jesus with her sons
and did him homage, wishing to ask him for something.
He said to her,
“What do you wish?”
She answered him,
“Command that these two sons of mine sit,
one at your right and the other at your left, in your Kingdom.”
Jesus said in reply,
“You do not know what you are asking.
Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?”
They said to him, “We can.”
He replied,
“My chalice you will indeed drink,
but to sit at my right and at my left, this is not mine to give
but is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”

My mind sprang into action remembering so many women and mothers of biblical fame and some notoriety. It also came to me with a boom that Mary is our Jewish mother. She protects us. We are HER sons and nobody better touch us. She teaches us love. She knows how to get to our Older Brother. She knows how to get to Our Father.

The way we revere Mary, Our Mother sets us apart from other Christians and marks us as Catholic to the world . This is the way it should be. Under Jewish law, the mother is the one who imparts “jewishness” to the child. Under Catholic Tradition, Mary, our Mother imparts her feminine attributes to her Son and through Him, we get to know that she is the pinnacle of God’s revelation about His feminine side. This is the faith of us Catholics. We know our Mother.

God does not present us with a meek and pliable woman who allows herself to be exploited. He presents us with a serious woman who knows how to live her relationship with God within her religious community. He shows us a young woman who is not afraid to state her moral position to the Angel Gabriel.

Most of the time we hear all about Mary’s “FIAT” from the pulpit. I like to remember her “How can this happen since I do not know man?”

Doesn’t this sound like, “Look, Gabe, I’m not that kind of a girl!”

Gabriel is not put off by her. He explains the situation. She knows her Scripture. She knows Sarah, Hannah, Rebekah, Ruth, Esther, Delilah, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, the mother of Moses and the woman who made bread for the prophet for a whole year. Knowing all this and confronted by a Messenger of Yahweh, she offers her FIAT (“Let it be done to me according to thy word.”)

Since she was betrothed to Joseph, we know that she had to have some Courage to present him with her new condition. The bible tells us that Joseph was illumined by the angels in a vision concerning his fiancée's pregnancy. It also tells us that Mary had the great opportunity to get out of town and go away to help her older cousin Elizabeth who has miraculously also become pregnant. How convenient! God sure knows what He is doing.

I don’t know how many of you have read the story of Abraham. Those of you who haven’t yet done that, owe yourselves the “E-Ticket Ride.” The story of Mary is so close to the saga of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah that you have to read both to appreciate the action of God for our salvation. (Genesis, starting at chapter 12)

We Catholics love Mary because we see her strength. At twelve years old, Jesus slips away from Mary and Joseph during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to visit with the elders of the Temple. Mary and Joseph finally locate Him and it's Mary, not Joseph, who speaks up and says, “Don’t you now that we have been looking for you with great apprehension for three days?” I don’t know too many women, but the one that I do know would have delegated that task to me.

Not Mary, she dives right in and lets Him have it.

A couple sentences later we are told that they went back to Nazareth and Jesus was docile and obedient and grew in age and in wisdom. It looks like we know who was in charge.

So He grows up and leaves home. We do know that she taught Him His religion. We know that He has the right to read and speak in the Temple. His mother took care of that. As an adult, He’s really good at doing God’s work. So good that He is able to attract some of His own followers from John the Baptist’s community.

A little while later He and His disciples are at a wedding at Cana and Mary gets involved again, fearlessly. “Psst, Jesus, they have run out of wine.”

Jesus, the adult Man responds with the equivalent of, “So what?”

Do you think that Mary is put off by that? No way. Hey, she’s "The Mom."

She tells the wine steward, “Do everything that He tells you.” That’s the last word. Jesus is putty in her hands. He tells the the servants what to do. He makes the water that they gather into wine and everyone is happy.

Surely, this woman is no wimp. She was well within the line of sight during the passion. She was at the Cross at the Hour of Truth. How can anyone not be proud to call Mary, “MOTHER?”

Yes, we live in a male dominated Church. The same Church that proudly calls itself “THE BRIDE OF CHRIST”. We live in the Kingdom of God that is proud to carry a feminine name. We live in the Kingdom that proudly proclaims that the Risen Christ appeared to His Mother and her friends before showing Himself to His male followers. We live in a Church that reveals God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in a male dominated way, balanced by the powerful spirit of a woman who was as tough as Her Son. She made Him what He turned out to be. If she could do it with Him, I assure you that she can do it with us.

I, for one, am proud to say that I am Catholic and that I love and revere Mary, my Mother. I know that she is constantly nagging Him about me, saying that I’m not as bad as He might think I am.

It’s taking a while. I’m not one of the “Good who die young”. But hey, with her on my side, I can stick it out a few more years to make it easier on her. She knows that I have no special comfort requests. Any dark, cold, left over cloud will do.

So now you know, with simple desires like that, you have absolutely no reason to cry at my funeral. Especially since you know that She will be able to convince Him to get me at least a nice warm blanket.


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