Good Friday and God’s Family

April 10, 2009

 

It’s Good Friday. I’ve made an effort to keep this day simple. Tonight I’ll go to church for the Stations of the Cross but today I’ve left plenty of time for reading, reflection, prayer and time to just enjoy the girls.

I’ve been thinking about how busy life gets and how it’s easy to miss those simple moments, like when Claire just laughs and laughs over the silliest thing. She has a great laugh. And Ella, well, she can make you smile with just one of her goofy looks. I don’t want to miss those moments. I want to slow down and enjoy them as much as possible.

Today we recognize the anniversary of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross. As I’ve spent time reflecting on the signficance of this day and enjoying my girls I’ve been thinking of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  I bet she would have given anything for another day with Jesus. Another day to hold her son, to laugh with him, to recall childhood memories. I bet she knew each and every one of Jesus’ expressions of joy, sorrow and pain. I bet she knew his sense of humor and could predict the things that would make him laugh. Moms just know those things about their kids. It’s how we’re wired. Because we’re wired that way, I can’t even begin to imagine the depth of her agony and sorrow as she watched her son suffer unjustly.

I’ve been thinking about Mary a lot today. I know some of my readers won’t get this. They’ll  think I’m missing the gospel message by focusing on Jesus’ mom. If you’re one of those hang with me and read on.

You see, the message of the cross is one of love and sacrifice. It’s about Jesus’ love and sacrifice. And where do you think he learned how to love and sacrifice? Yes, from his Heavenly Father but also from his mother. She was the first Christian. The first human to carry Christ in her heart and in her body. She sacrificed a great deal when she said yes to God’s call to carry the Messiah in her womb. And if you’re a mom then you know she sacrificed everything as she watched her son die. Any of the moms I know would have jumped up on the cross and taken their child’s place in a heartbeat. Don’t think for a moment that Mary didn’t want to do the same.

Family. It’s everything. God is all about family. Hence, God THE FATHER, and God THE SON. But a family is incomplete without a mother. God knows this and He did not leave us without a mother.

Here’s the simple but beautiful logic.

Jesus was part of a family. He had a Father and a mother.  We (you and me) have been adopted into God’s family. We’re a  part of Christ’s family. He is our brother which means…you guessed it… Mary is our mother. She’s our spiritual mother.

Yep, Mary is our Mother.

In case you have any doubt read Revelation chapter 12 which tells us that those who keep his commands are her offspring (Rev. 12:17). And, think about one of the last things Jesus did on the cross. He gave his mother to John. Read the early church fathers and it’s clear that the early church understood this gesture to mean that Jesus was giving his mother to all of us.

You may be thinking that this doesn’t make a bit a difference but I assure you it does.

God, in his wisdom, knew that we needed a mother, a mother who knew what it meant to sacrifice for her child(ren). A mother who would say yes to God. A mother who would allow God’s plan to unfold no matter how painful it might be for her.  You see she could have intervened and tried to stop Christ’s crucifixion but instead she allowed the son she birthed to be sacrificed so that her other children, you and me, His his brothers and sisters, could be saved. Don’t you get it? This woman, who was full of grace, sacrificed what was most precious to her heart for us, for God’s family.

This is a part of the message of the cross, sacrifice expressed through the love of a mother. And today, as I enjoy my little girls I’m so grateful for the sacrificial love of Mary.

Mary is a mother who knows the sorrow of losing a child. And I can testify to having cried out for her prayers when I lost a little one I desperately longed to hold.  She is a woman who knows what it is to say yes to God when His will seemed impossible. I’ve asked her to pray for me as I’ve struggled to accept what has seemed impossible in my own life. She is in heaven and she cares about us.

Forget about your limited human understanding of time and space. Forget about the lies you’ve heard about how Catholics worship Mary. Leave behind your fears and think for a moment.

If you’re a Christian, what makes you truly alive? It is your spirit. It’s the spirit of Christ in you.  So, although Mary is physically dead, she is fully alive in heaven. The same spirit of Christ that unites you and me, unites us with those who have gone before us, including Mary. This is the communion of saints that we sense between our brothers and sisters on earth. It is the same Spirit, communion, that unites us with those who’ve physcially died.

To my fellow moms, you have a mom in heaven who knows your heartaches. She watched her son die on a cross. Do you not think she gets the depths of your agony as you watch your own children struggle through difficult times? Don’t you think that the woman who gave birth to a son only to watch him die on a cross for OUR salvation cares and prays for us? She has a vested interest in the well-being of Jesus’ brothers and sisters, her offspring.

For the motherless, she is your mother. For those had moms who didn’t trust in God, she is the Godly mother you long for. For those who had mothers who abused them instead of protecting them with tender love, she is the mother who knows how to love–she gave birth to Love incarnate. For those who had selfish mothers, she is the mother who shows us unselfish love, she sacrificed her greatest treasure just for you.

God is all about family. He’s our Father. He’s our Brother. And, He’s given us a mother. Not so that we can worship her or make her an idol. But as a gift full of grace. Because, every family needs a mom.

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She Said Yes

December 29, 2008

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I was up before Ella this morning and had time to read in peace and quiet (a rare occurrence). Some of the readings and prayers in my Magnificat led me to think about Mary’s fiat (that is, her yes to God). There’s so much to learn from her love for God and her willingness to bear His son and subsequently watch him die on the cross. She’s a model of…

  • Obedient faith
  • Long waiting/long suffering
  • Unhesitant love

Obedient Faith: Faith without obedience is meaningless. What good would it have done for Mary to believe but not obey? What if she’d said, “Lord, I believe but I just can’t go through with this pregnancy.  I can’t face Joseph. I just can’t be humliated like that. I believe in you but hey, I can’t do this?”  What kind of faith would that have been? It was obedient faith that brought Jesus into the world.  It was faith followed by action. Mary’s obedient faith was like that of Abraham, her forefather (see Hebrews 11). Like Mary and her forefather I am called to something more than “faith alone” (James 2:20-24). I am called to an obedience that comes from faith (Romans 1:5).

Long waiting/long suffering: Mary’s life was far from easy. Of all people in the world you’d think that the Mother of  our God incarnate would have been given a break. But instead Mary’s faith journey was one of difficulty (she was a refugee) and heartache (she watched her son be crucified – as a mom I can’t think of anything more painful than that). Mary said yes to a life that would require faithful waiting and long suffering. Mary’s yes is a pattern or example to follow for those of us who desire to know and love Jesus.  Think about it, besides God the Father, who in this world would have loved Jesus more than his mother?  I can only imagine how she would have gladly died in His place (I’d die for my children in a heartbeat). But instead, Mary accepted God’s plan for her son and for herself.  Her long-suffering challenges me to accept the will of God in my life, even when it’s painful.

Unhesitant love: Mary’s yes did not have a plan behind it. She didn’t have all the answers as to what would happen and what her life would like like.  A short dialogue with the Angel Gabriel, one small question about how this could be possible and then she responded:   “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be done to me according to your word.” She loved God more than herself and more than her own plans. Therefore she could say “yes” without hesitation. O how I need to love God like that.

O my Jesus, I want to be like your Blessed Mother, Mary. I want to live by obedient faith. I want to love without hesitation; accepting your will for my life even if it means there is long waiting and suffering.   Amen.

 

Note to my Protestant friends:I know some who read this might struggle with understanding the love the Catholic faith has for Mary. I once struggled with this too. But after studying what the Catholic Church actually teaches about Mary I realized that my struggle was rooted in a great deal of misunderstanding over what the Church really believes.

Contrary to popular opinion we Catholics do not worship Mary. Worship is reserved for God and God alone.  We do however, give honor where honor is due. And so, we honor Mary, the Mother of God in the flesh.   We are called to imitate Jesus and it’s safe to say that being perfect in love Jesus always honors his mother (afterall, it is one of God’s big 10  :-). So, the honor we show Mary is one way we imitate Jesus.  If you have more questions you can check out this link.