Today we hear a lot of criticism of Mary and the denial of her role in Redemption. There are novels and movies that portray Mary as the stereotypical Jewish Mother, far from perfect. Many Christians feel that Mary shouldn’t be considered any better than one else especially the Apostles. Peter who denied Jesus and Paul who persecuted the Church are held in higher esteem. I’ve even heard a sermon by a Catholic priest critical of the Miraculous Medal Novena.
If we really understood all of the pain and suffering Mary went through for our sakes we would be sure to honor her. Probably no one but Jesus suffered more for the Church. Mary suffered emotionally for almost the entire life of Jesus.
We might as well start at the beginning. Most of us think it was probably exciting to have the Angel appear with his message. But who would believe such a message? Joseph didn’t. He was going to divorce her quietly. How would you like to be pregnant and not married in a society where you get stoned to death for it? Only the appearance of an angel in a dream to Joseph and Joseph’s decision to marry Mary saved Mary from that possibility. It didn’t save her from the gossips and backbiting. Think about that! People were speaking negatively about Mary right from the start. All through the life of Jesus there was gossip about her.
We all know about the journey to Bethlehem and the birth in a stable. We can imagine how hard that was. We read in Scripture about the Feast of the Presentation when Simeon held Jesus in his arms and prophesied that a “sword will pierce” Mary’s heart. Simeon confirmed that the prophecies of Isaiah applied to Jesus. He would not be a glorious king like David as many of the contemporary Jews thought but a suffering servant destined to die for our salvation. Would it ever be possible to Mary to forget that her son would suffer so bitterly?
We know about the Flight to Egypt and the deaths of the Holy Innocents. How did that feel? Your son isn’t even two years old and they tried to kill Him. On top of that women you knew had to suffer the murder of their children.
How would it feel later to watch your Son leave to begin His Mission knowing that it would end in the Cross? How would it feel to hear of the attacks of the Pharisees? How would it feel to hear of so many people who rejected Jesus and to see this happen personally in Nazareth?
How did it feel to go to Jerusalem for the Passover, knowing what was coming? How did it feel to hear from John that Jesus had been arrested? How painful must it have been to hear the crowd thunder “Crucify Him”? How painful could it be to see your only Son carrying the Cross after having endured the Scourging and Crowning with thorns, to see the blood running down His face and the stains all over His tunic? How would you feel to see rocks and other projectiles strike your Son, to hear Him cursed, mocked and called illegitimate?
What was it like to watch Him fall and hear people cheer? What was it like to see His hands nailed to a cross and then His feet? What was it like to see His body jolt as the Cross was placed in its hole? What was it like to watch His body convulse in pain? What was it like to see Him unable even to hold His head straight because of the thorns?
As bad as it was to watch all this Mary had to listen to the mocking of the Pharisees and others, to her Son cursed and mocked but also to hear herself abused. Think about it the one way to increase the pain of Jesus would be to abuse His mother in front of Him. Think about how Jesus felt then.
Think about how Jesus must feel now to see His Mother mocked in plays and books, to hear her role denied and degraded, to hear that she was a sinner as Protestants claim. Think about what we are doing as we do such things. We join with those on Calvary who hurt Jesus by mocking her.
Do we really want to do that? It is bad enough that Jesus had to suffer for our sins. But do we have to join those on Calvary mocking His Mother?
Jesus, we thank You that You chose Mary to play a special role in our Salvation and that You choose to continue to have Mary play a part in the Salvation of mankind. We ask You to open our hearts and the hearts of all to the love that You desire for us to have for Your Mother. Amen