Young children, from my experience, are practically fearless. Their vision of the world is both simple and fantastic. Take this tall tree we have smack dab in the middle of our backyard. When I look at it, in relation to them, I consider it as something from which they can fall whenever they try to climb it. They, on the other hand, very likely see it as a towering challenge they must scale in order to gain access to a perch of hawk-like perspective.
While I do not want my children to grow up in a bubble atmosphere of “Don’t do this, don’t do that!”, my motherly instinct to protect them from all possible harm comes out in full measure when I think or sense that they could hurt themselves. Admittedly, this is why I am not ideal to be with them at the playground. The killjoy in me hurriedly makes an appearance as I watch them swing, climb, run and jump all over the place. My husband is a great antidote to my penchant for putting a stop to our children’s need to move around and have fun. Suffice it to say he knows how to let them play well without agonizing over every little thing. Thank God for fathers!
Everybody and His Mother
In general, though, this natural concern for the welfare of her children is what keeps a mother on her toes, on the lookout for good and bad things. Such was the likely disposition of the mother of James and John – the sons of Zebedee – when she requested of Jesus,
“Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” (Mt. 20:21)
“When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers.” (Mt. 20:24)
Perhaps if the mothers of the ten other disciples had been there when this request was made, they would have rushed to do the same for their own sons. Many mothers, who want the best for their children, can relate to this bold request.
Every single person has or had a mother. It is a universal human experience. Jesus is no different from us in this respect. He too has a mother – Mary – who bore and raised Him as any mother would her child. As an adult, Jesus spoke and acted with a natural love and compassion to those around Him, especially for those who were marginalized and scorned by others. It stands to reason that He was raised in a home rich in the same love and compassion He generously showed others.
Acts of Love and Compassion
Our Lord’s mercy and compassion moved Him to respond in ways, which are nothing short of miraculous. In a previous article, I wrote of the scene, which must have played out at the wedding in Cana to which Jesus and His mother had been invited. At her implied request (When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, “They have no wine.”), water was turned to very good wine. What could have been a source of embarrassment and ruined a joyous celebration became, instead, the occasion for Jesus’ first miracle.
In another instance, our Lord’s heart is moved to pity for a widow in the town of Nain, who mourns the death of her only son.
“When the Lord saw her, he had compassion for her and said to her, “Do not weep.” Then he came forward and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, rise!” The dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” (Lk 7:13-15)
Did the widow remind Jesus of His own mother? Did He perhaps consider when His own time on Calvary came, Mary too would be a widow crying for her only son? The tears of the widow of Nain were enough to move Him to perform the miracle of bringing the dead man back to life.
His Mother is Our Mother
His love for His mother is strong and steadfast. Hanging on the cross, suffering and in agony, Jesus remains a good Son:
“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.” (Jn. 19: 26-27)
With His death impending, our Lord has entrusted Mary to the youngest apostle John, who receives her as his own mother – and ours! This woman who was called to be the Mother of God and who would certainly do anything for her Son is now our mother. How blessed we are to be able to call her our own with confidence!
This confidence comes from knowing we are children of our Father God. It is borne of the fact, which is – as with any good, loving mother – Mary cares for us and wants what is best. We know from the example of the wedding at Cana that she does not stand idly by when help is needed. She has the ear and the heart of her Son! With her at our side, we are in the company of a loving and powerful intercessor.
Litany of Love
Yet, we cannot be remiss in our own effort to show our heavenly mother our affection, for it is a rare mother who does not appreciate her child’s profession of love for her. It is not a matter of adoring or idolizing Mary, who is not God, but that of showing her the kind of affection a child rightfully showers on his or her mother. Certainly, Mary receives the attention and love we give her and re-directs it to her Son, without fail, as she instructed the servants in the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you.”
There are many beautiful prayers to Mary for her help and intercession. They are always wonderful reminders of the truth that she is the Mother of God, but invitations for we who are her children to turn to her with both human and supernatural trust. With October as the month of the Holy Rosary, I am reminded of the affection inspired by the Litany of Loreto, which has the “distinction of being one of only six litanies approved for public recitation by the Holy See”. Although it may seem repetitive, it is a loving echo of the various ways by which Our Lady is known to those who have taken her as their own mother, after Jesus’ invitation to do so on Calvary.
“How Do I Love Thee?”
Many times, listening to and considering each invocation in the litany is enough to jumpstart a prayer of contemplation. Holy Mary. Holy Mother of God. Mother of Christ. Mother of the Church. This is our mother we are talking about – how amazing is that! She is the Virgin most merciful, the Virgin most powerful. How is this possible? Once more, we must recall with gratitude and adoration the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” (Lk 1:37)
Mary is the gate of heaven; the morning star, health of the sick and refuge of sinners. As any mother would, she shelters those who come to her for comfort, solace and consolation. She is the comfort of the afflicted and help of Christians. She is our help. And she is a queen – our Queen conceived without original sin and assumed into heaven. She is the Queen of the family and of peace.
From Our Lips to Her Ears
When we pray the Litany of Loreto, it is as if we are whispering sweet things (not “nothings”!) into the ears of our beloved Mother. It is a loving reminder of how much she has loved us and continues to do so. We too show our love for her and, ultimately, through her for Jesus, as always. We call on her to remember she is all of this and much, much more, and her own Son gave her to us to be our mother – and we need her on our side always.
In the eyes of God, we are always His children. As such, we are called to do His most lovable will and to trust in His divine providence. Although we may not always know what to do or understand everything, which is going on in our lives, we can take courage in the fact our Mother in heaven wants to help us fulfill God’s will. With respect to living out and professing our faith, let us be confident in being “forever young” and fearless in the name of God, with Mary on our side.
“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much.
You can never love her more than Jesus did.”