IN LIFE’S DIFFICULT MOMENTS, we often turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary for help. It is right that we do so, for she is our mother who loves us dearly. She is always attentive to our specific needs, but her love for us does not stop there. More than that, our Blessed Mother seeks, above all, to instill in us essential characteristics of the Christian life, characteristics that she embodies and exemplifies — namely, openness to God’s love, faithful discipleship and spiritual fruitfulness.
When the angel Gabriel announced to the Virgin Mary that God had chosen her to be the mother of his only son, the Messiah, her “yes” to God was total and ongoing. Her response to the angel stands forever as the model for our response to God’s will in our lives: “May it be done to me according to your word!” (Lk 1:38). Because of Mary’s single-hearted openness to God’s plan, she conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and brought forth the world’s savior, Jesus Christ.
In the setbacks of daily life, we can easily compromise our “yes” to God. We succumb to anger and disappointment; we dwell on ourselves instead of opening our hearts to God’s will. Even then, Mary is never far from us — only a prayer away. She urges us to surrender bitterness and self-absorption, and entrust ourselves to God’s providential love. Mary did not understand all that the Incarnation would demand of her any more than we understand all that God asks of us. Yet, when we say “yes” to whatever God wills for our lives, we discover peace.
A second essential characteristic of the Christian life is fidelity. Many episodes in Mary’s life illustrate this quality. As she entered the house of Elizabeth, her cousin cried out, “Blessed is she who believed that God’s promises would be fulfilled!” (Lk 1:45). Mary’s faith never wavered as she witnessed astonishing events in the life of her divine son. Instead, she lovingly stored these mysteries in her heart (cf. Lk 2:19). As Jesus began his public mission, Mary became his first and best disciple. In her goodness, she epitomized the Beatitudes. When Jesus said, “Blessed are they who hear the word of God and keep it,” he was surely thinking first of his mother (Lk 11:28). In time, Mary’s fidelity brought her to the foot of the cross, to Calvary, where she shared intimately in her son’s passion and death.
‘Mary did not understand all that the Incarnation would demand of her any more than we understand all that God asks of us. Yet, when we say “yes” to whatever God wills for our lives, we discover peace.’
It is all too easy for us leave the path of discipleship. Think of how many Catholics have abandoned the practice of the faith. Some claim they left because of scandal, others because they no longer feel it meets their needs, and still others because of social pressure. Mary urges us to cling to our faith for the long haul. Let us not be “fair-weather disciples”!
A third essential characteristic of the Christian life is spiritual fruitfulness. Mary exemplifies such fruitfulness by the virgin birth of her son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Yet, God the Father had in mind for her another form of motherhood: She was to be the Mother of the Church and the spiritual mother of each of the Lord’s followers. As he hung upon the cross, Jesus said to the beloved disciple, John, “Behold your mother” (Jn 19:27). Even as Mary’s heart was rent with sorrow, the full extent of her motherhood was revealed. She who gave birth to the savior became the “new Eve,” who gave birth in the Church to countless disciples of the Lord, including you and me.
How are we to be spiritually fruitful? Each of us is called to attract new followers to the Lord and his Church. We are called to reinforce and deepen one another’s faith, and to manifest in our lives the abundant gifts of the Holy Spirit. And we are called to transform the world around us.
During this month of May, let us turn to Mary with renewed devotion, asking her to lead us to her divine son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
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