This past week, my mom underwent some pretty serious back surgery. It’s been needed for some time, but like many other surgeries, it was delayed because of the current pandemic. As things are slowly being returning to some degree of normal, previous things are being picked up again.
But, of course, it’s all different.
For example, for my mom’s surgery, no one was allowed to go back into pre-op with her. Only one person was allowed to be in the waiting room. No one was allowed in her regular hospital room after the surgery. The family member in the waiting room during the surgery had to wear a mask, have their temperature taken, and were banned from leaving the waiting for any reason. If they left, they could not reenter.
Needless to say, all of these measures (while very needed in themselves) made an already sensitive surgery even more anxious for my mom and for our entire family. Life was already stressful and anxious before these additional measures since, while we were preparing for her surgery, my family was trying to divide up my mom’s various duties, tasks, and responsibilities.
As her adult children, we tried to list all the things mom usually does around the house, for our family, and within the extended family and broader community. As we were composing the list, we were shocked at how much mom gets done. Three adult children could barely cover what one older woman knocks out in a week.
Thanks be to God, the surgery went extremely well. We did okay in covering everything, and now my mom is resting at home and ready to get back to things.
The experience comes to mind this Sunday, not simply because it just happened, but because today we celebrate Mother’s Day. This is the day when as a nation we pause and say, “Thank you,” to the women who have given us life, raised us, sacrificed for us, correct and encourage us, and who always rally our cause and work so hard for us.
What would we do without our mothers? Who would we be without the work and witness of a mother in our lives?
Sadly, some people can answer those questions. But most of us couldn’t imagine life without our mothers, or what our life would have become without a mother.
As we reflect on the dedication, hard work, and irreplaceability of mothers in our lives and in our extended families, we should use this opportunity to reflect on the close relationship between Mary and the Lord Jesus.
As we acknowledge the importance of mothers in our own lives, and feel the suffering of when they’re not around for whatever duration of time, then certainly the Lord Jesus could understand. He was completely God and fully human. He came to us “born of a woman.” He didn’t fall from the sky or spring up from the ocean. The Lord Jesus was born into a family. He had a foster father and a mother. He knew of his mother’s love and relied on her strength throughout his life.
At the beginning of the life of the Lord Jesus, the archangel called Mary of Nazareth “full of grace,” told her she would bear an anointed son, and then the Holy Spirit brought about the incarnation of the Son of God within her womb. At the very moment of the Lord’s incarnation, Mary received the vocation of motherhood. The two are intricately intertwined. The mission of the Lord Jesus is connected to the motherhood of Mary.
Virginally conceived, Jesus was warmed by his mother virginal heart. In his birth and throughout his childhood, he was surrounded by his mother’s generous faith, hard work, and selfless love. Under the care and teaching of his mother and foster father, Jesus’ human nature slowly matured for his saving mission.
As on earth, so into eternity, Jesus honors Mary’s devotedness as his mother and shows her the love of a devoted son. In light of her maternal vocation, she holds a privileged place in his life and mission.
Mary knows who Jesus is. She is conscious of his redeeming mission among us. On account of this awareness, he welcomes her into his own mission. From the crib to the cross, from the Annunciation, to Pentecost, to her own Assumption, throughout all her various apparitions through the ages, Mary is beloved of her Son, she works hard, and she actively participates in his saving mission.
Follow Father Jeffrey Kirby on Twitter: @fatherkirby