Up until 13 years ago, Mary was just a woman to me. She was just the woman God chose in order to bring His son into this world. The only thing special about her was her yes. I thought she was just a woman- like you and me. That was what I was taught. Mary was not that special. I’m not sure why my Baptist Church downplayed her and her role in salvation history. The more I learn about Mary, the more confused I am by their stance.
But even 13 years ago when I was becoming Catholic, I still didn’t “get” Mary. I accepted that her role was greater than I first believed, but I didn’t really understand why she was all that special. Over the years, I have collected tidbits here and there of her greatness. And recently, I have been mulling it all over. A while back, I learned that in Jewish tradition, the Queen of a Jewish kingdom is not the King’s wife. It is his Mother. This really made sense as to why Catholics call her the Queen of Heaven. She is the King’s Mother. Another thing pointed out to me was the fact that God made His own Mother. He made the woman who would bring Him into this world. He created the womb that He would humble Himself into and become a flesh and blood human to be delivered into the hands of mankind. Why wouldn’t he make her special? She had to be worthy enough to receive God’s very life in her body. She had to be worthy enough to raise Jesus into a man. She had to be worthy enough to watch Him reveal Himself to the world and then die at the hands of those she was raised to respect. Yes, God made her especially for Him.
The first thing that blows my mind about her is that she was willing to say yes. Now, let me tell you that if an Angel appeared in my living room and asked me to be the mother of the Christ, then I would probably pop a few more Xanax and make an appointment to have my head examined. Mary, after hearing about how she would conceive as a virgin(which is mind-boggling in itself), said “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) There was not a doubt in her mind as to the validity of what was happening. She completely believed and trusted God. I am the handmaid of the Lord- those are the words that get me. Not only did she say yes, but she totally and completely gave herself over to God. His will became her life. And she didn’t say to the Angel let me think about it. She didn’t ask him to come back in a week. She didn’t feel the need to rush out and get advice on the situation. She just said yes and completely gave herself over to God. Then she trusted and never looked back. Yes, God made her especially for Him.
Another thing that awes me about her is her joy. Here she is pregnant, unmarried and living in a society that stones women for adultery. And yet she is joyful. She doesn’t worry about what the world thinks. She is totally focused on God and His child within her and her joy knows no bounds. Catholics call Luke 1:46-56 The Magnificat. That prayer has so much more meaning now that I understand where that joy comes from. The depths of that joy are incredible. The roots of her joy are so intimately intertwined with God that it’s hard to see where God ends and her joy begins. She celebrates a closeness that we only dream of. Yes, God did make her especially for Him.
I think that if we were to identify just one superhero power in Mary, it would be her strength. Her strength is incredible. Not only did she bring the Son of God into the world, but she let Him go. She joyfully let Him live out the Father’s will which included His torture and death. She watched the elders of her society ridicule her Son for teaching about the love of God- a love she intimately experienced. She was there when they beat Him beyond recognition and then sentenced Him to die. I can’t even imagine what she went through. Not only did she witness His Passion, but she was there, by His side the whole time. She was His earthly support. Her strength is supernatural. Yes indeed, God made her especially for Him.
And then God did something incredible. He took this great work of art that is His mother and He gave her to us:
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home. (John 19:26-27)
And that is yet another lesson to us about Agape love. Jesus lived His whole life doing the Father’s will. He did nothing for Himself. Everything He did was to glorify the Father. And then He invited us into this Agape love when He stretched out His hands between heaven and earth and gave up His life for our sins. And in the moment before He gave us His innocent life, He gave US the woman He created and loved as a son loves a mother. Not only did he give us His life, but He gave us His mother- the woman whom He created for a perfect relationship with Him. How awesome is that?
So, I finally get Mary. But I didn’t have the same prayer experience with her as some of my other Catholic brothers and sisters. I didn’t really get the rosary or the other Marian prayers. I knew she was there and present, but I didn’t experience her like I do Jesus or the Holy Spirit. So, I decided to really seek her out. I prayed the rosary more often. I prayed the other Marian prayers. And I called upon her in those moments that needed a woman’s touch. Still, I didn’t feel anything special from her. So, I got a little frustrated. And, in that moment of frustration, I looked up and saw the picture of Jesus’ Sacred Heart above our fireplace and that is when I realized what was happening. Mary is a window. Since she is an incredible work of art created especially for God, she possesses the humility necessary to have that perfect relationship with God. When you pray to Mary, she prays for you and leads you to her Son. That is her purpose- to bring her children to Jesus. And when I looked back at my effort to know Mary better, I actually drew closer to her Son. She allowed me to see Him through her eyes. She focused me right on the source of all her love and joy. She is a beautiful window to Christ. Yes, the Lord created her especially for Him. And then the Lord turned around and gave her especially to us. How awesome is that?
Copyright 2010 Lori Miller