By: Fr. Nilo A. Lardizabal, OP
The Blessed Mother has always been an example of humility and patience. Though being the Mother of Jesus, she never wanted special treatment or praise. It was enough that her Son is glorified. Remember the episode at the Wedding at Cana? The wine ran dry and it would mean total embarrassment to the couple. Sensitive enough, Mary requested her Son to intervene.
But what is crucial here is not necessarily the miracle, but the woman who initiated the ministry of Jesus. She knows full well that if Jesus performs his first miracle, it would meet with jealousy and hatred from the religious authorities. Mary knew what was at risk. Yet her words were very simple: “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) It was the Son who did the miracle, yet like a good mother, it was she who gave the simple word. Here it is as if Mary was saying, “Yes, Son, begin your ministry.”
Another episode worth revisiting was the time when Jesus got lost in the temple area. His mother Mary, with Joseph searched for days for the young Son. Then they saw him amidst the teachers of the Law, arguing and debating. I can imagine the tears falling from Mary’s cheek as she saw her only Son, safe and well.
Again, real concern issuing from a Mother, she cannot but say: “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been so worried.” (Luke 43: 48) It was a sigh of relief. It was a simple gesture of pure love from a mother who wants the best for her Son. After the response of Jesus, she said nothing more because she understood what Jesus’ words meant. It was a simple assent, a simple “yes” to the will of the Father. It was, after all, the Father’s business.
Now, probably one of the simplest words Mother Mary uttered was a leap of faith. We go back to the episode which started it all: the Annunciation. Here we have a young Mary, strong but gentle, who was visited by a mighty angel. Men and women of the Old Testament either flee or bow to the ground in homage to the celestial visitor, but Mary was inquisitive, eager, as if expecting the angel. And there the plan of the Father for her was laid out. There were no rationalizations, no excuses, and not even a moment’s hesitation. She simply said: FIAT. “Yes, be it done to me as you say.” This ushered in a new era for humankind. The Creator of time now enters time; the Infinite shared in finitude. It was a unique moment in history. And Mary, ever simple, never feared the consequences that may ensue, or the gossips that will scatter. She simply knew that the Father was using her for the benefit of humanity. I wonder how many women could have stood this excitement? What form of joy she would share to her friends and neighbors? But for Mary, such was not the case. The event was not for her to be in the spotlight – it was her Son, and no one else.
We think of our own lives and possibly realize that we talk a lot. There is always something that we could say or argue. We can make excuses, debates, and rationalizations. Yet sometimes we fail to really listen. Listening is a simple act. Not much effort is required here. Yet how can we listen if there is always something to talk, get mad, argue or shout about? Isn’t Mary teaching us something? There ought not to be much to say have we listened more. In the three biblical episodes mentioned, Mary uttered a few lines – simple yet unique. Why simple? Because she was listening, then she was able to understand. Here flows her simplicity. It wasn’t about words really; it was about listening to voice of God and allowing Him to work in our lives. It was enough that her Son spoke, enough that the angel related the plan – no argumentations, just simple abandonment to the will of God.
Now that she listened and understood, the other episodes in her life, although sorrowful, no longer required words. She pushed herself even further in simplicity. Remember the event when her Son was dying on the cross? “And there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, . . .” (John 19: 25) The action word was powerful. Mary was “standing” at the foot of the cross. How can a mother not wail and faint and throw herself to the ground upon seeing her innocent child dying on the cross? Why didn’t she do that? Mother Mary simply understood what was happening. She knew that her Son had to endure all this and die for the sake of sinful humanity. Her stance at the cross was a very simple yet powerful action. “Yes”, she seems to say, “I understand”.
This was the faith of Mary. She was teaching us all along. What have we learned? Maybe amidst our busy lives, doing a million things, even if it is for the Lord, we hope to remember one woman who listened and understood in all simplicity. For our dear Mother, it was enough that she was simple. After all, she will not take credit, everything belongs to her Son.
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