Today, we celebrate Mother’s Day in the United States and in many countries throughout the world.
The holiday is an opportunity for us to thank the woman who gave us life and to reflect on the unique role that mothers are called to play in the lives of their children and in the world.
With yesterday’s centenary of Our Lady of Fatima, the holiday also points believers to Mary of Nazareth and a consideration of her place as the Blessed Mother.
Now as a parish priest, whenever my mom visits, it’s amazing how much she inquires about my life and how much she inspects the environment: food, cleanliness, people and personalities.
Honestly, if she wasn’t my mother, her approach would be pushy and intrusive. She would be way over the top.
But, she’s my mom.
And so, she’s given a leeway that others would never have in my life. Yes, mothers have a privileged access to the lives of their children.
It’s a basic human reality, whether we like it or not, that mothers can go where no one else can. They understand us. Our mothers carried us, brought us into the world, and our lives are always a gift and a reflection of them.
Mothers are important and their vocation is sacred within the realm and experience of the human family.
This truth is painfully experienced in the negative when mothers are absent because of death or divorce or when they don’t live up to their calling by some type of dysfunction.
And so, we shouldn’t be surprised when we see this universal truth played out in the earthly life of Jesus Christ. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to bring redemption to humanity.
Jesus Christ didn’t just appear as an adult, or fall from the sky. He was born of a woman, and had a human mother.
The archangel announced to Mary of Nazareth that she was “full of grace,” and was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ, the Savior of humanity. It was Mary who first heard and believed in the glad tidings of the savior’s arrival.
Virginally conceived, Jesus was born surrounded by his mother’s faith and his people’s hope.
After his displacement and birth in Bethlehem and his flight into Egypt, Jesus settled and was raised in Nazareth. He worked with human hands, prayed with human words and loved with a human heart. Under the care and teaching of his mother and foster father, Jesus’ human nature was slowly prepared for his saving mission.
Jesus honored Mary as his mother and showed her the love of a devoted son. With her maternal heart, she held a privileged place in his life and mission. At the wedding feast of Cana, the Lord was hesitant to work a miracle, “My hour has not yet come.”
It was Mary who prompted his actions, and with it the beginning of his public ministry. Her instructions to the servants at Cana about Jesus are her last recorded words in the Bible: “Do whatever he tells you.”
At one point in Jesus’ public ministry, someone yelled to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked.”
Jesus, however, acknowledged Mary’s faith and showed the depth of his love and honor for his mother when he responded, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
As his mother, Mary was especially prepared to be his most adamant follower.
Mary understood who Jesus was and what he was called to do. From the crib to the cross, from Pentecost to her Assumption, Mary loved her Son and faithfully served him as her savior and lord.
In turn, Jesus relied on her in his infancy and early life, spiritually throughout his public ministry, and at the end of his earthly life, he entrusted his community of believers to her, “Behold your Mother.” She now stands as an advocate of grace and guide in faith to anyone who wishes to turn to Jesus Christ.
On this Mother’s Day, and one day into the Anniversary Year of the apparitions and message of Fatima, we thank God for all good mothers, living and deceased, and for Mary, a spiritual mother who is always present and forever available to those who need her.