As we move closer to the end of the Month of May, also known as the Month of Mary, it is our task to assess the relevance of this calendar event. Mary has an entire month dedicated to her so there must be valid reasons as to why she is so highly regarded. Let us study her a little closer through Gospel passages and what they reveal about this remarkable woman.
Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. – Lk 1:38
Incarnation brings Jesus into our world. Mary is the one who allows this to take place.
Mary redefines what spirituality is about through her yes. It is no longer confined to personal transformation but is one that includes the public realm. Spirituality incarnates Jesus for each one of us and for the world. The Incarnation also affirms that life is good and beautiful. Mary affirms this too. So, our first lesson is that Mary is one who is present to us, affirming life and encouraging us to be present in the world, in order to reveal the divine.
And Mary said . . .
‘He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise He made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’ – Lk 1:46, 52-55
Mary’s Magnificat is a powerful statement of social justice. We are to understand that pursuit of holiness cannot be removed from the world but exercised within the public realm. Mary sought an integration between her public and personal life, the exteriority with her interiority, and her spiritual with the political.
Today, that has great appeal to people who are concerned with reality and its lack of moral compass.
When his parents saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ – Lk 2:48
Mary is often given the title of Mother and as such she knew the joys but also the frustrations of family life. Motherhood is important and we each are called to be attentive to the needs of others as Mary was.
Pope Francis said in his General Audience: “Let us then entrust ourselves to Mary, that She as mother of our first-born brother, Jesus, may teach us to have the same maternal spirit toward our brothers and sisters.” (3 September 2014)
Mary is celebrated as Mother, more so when we imitate the call to be Mother to all.
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, ‘Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.’ But he said to them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.’ – Lk 8:19-21
To hear the word of God is to be courageously and humbly open to transformation. Mary from the very beginning referred to herself as ‘the servant of the Lord.’ That promise was continued throughout her life. Her actions point to Jesus, and she directs us to the same direction.
Meanwhile, standing near the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 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 19:25-27
Mary is friend, disciple, prophet and mother. She is there, through thick and thin. She was there at the wedding of Cana when the wine ran out. She was there at the foot of the Cross and again at Pentecost.
A woman for all seasons and all times. Not shying away from struggles but facing them, as equally as she faced the joys of life.
A month dedicated to Mary, who models for us what being a follower of Christ is all about. She is a bringer forth of life, a voice for the voiceless, a faithful friend, an image of God, and a companion on life’s journey.
Dr Margaret Ghosn mshf is a Maronite Sister of the Holy Family. She is currently Principal at Maronite College of the Holy Family in Harris Park, Sydney.