Do you ever catch yourself doing or saying something exactly like one of your parents? If it hasn’t happened to you yet, trust me, one day it will and you’ll freak out. I am definitely turning into my mother. This summer, we were at Mass together during a big thunder storm. At one point a bolt of lightening that lit up the entire church. We turned to each other, then broke into a verse of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody – “Thunderbolts and lightening, very, very frightening…” at the exact same time.
I wonder if that ever happened to Jesus. Maybe it wasn’t classic rock, but could you imagine? How cool to think about Jesus learning from Mary. Well, of course he did! He came to this earth fully divine and fully human. He was a real person, a real new-born baby. He probably even looked like Mary. And she had the task of teaching him! Where do you think Jesus learned what it means to surrender even his body for God’s glory? “May it be done unto me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
Growing up, I always kept Mary at arm’s length. I knew that as a girl, I was supposed to look to her as an example, but chose to do so at a safe distance: I guess I was intimidated. I saw Mary as all the things I wasn’t (or didn’t want to be): humble, docile, pious… kind of weak, you know, “gentle woman, quiet light…”
When I transferred to Franciscan University, all I heard about was Mary. People were devoted to her, consecrated to her, named after her; they even put capital “M”s at the top of all their papers for her…. So when a friend invited me to a Marian prayer group, I figured I was cornered and should go ahead and give her a chance. I was praying, thinking, “Mary, I could never be as holy as you, as pure as you, or as gentle as you… but I want to know you.”
Turns out, she wanted that too. Since then, I have fallen in love with Mary. As I have gotten to know her, I’ve seen her in a new light. Gentleness and grace are not my strong points. I’m not a super girly girl. If anything, I’ve been told I can be pretty intimidating. So it has been really cool including Mary in my prayers. Having a relationship with her helps me to see God’s design. I was afraid that being humble meant being a doormat, and that being gentle meant compromising my strengths. But then I look at Mary.
Mary is the perfect example of strength and humility. She was chosen by God from the beginning of time to be the Mother of Jesus, and now is the Queen of Heaven and Earth with the job of being the vessel of God’s grace. There’s some power there, huh? She may have her hands folded gently in prayer, but she’s a power-house when it comes to fighting the enemy. Ever notice statues of Mary that show her with her foot on the head of a snake? That’s what I’m talking about! She’s not afraid, she’s not even concerned about the enemy because she trusts God completely.
Mary trusts Him because she knows the love of God. She is the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, His wife. This is an intimate love, a selfless love. This is the kind of love that calls us to give all of ourselves to another as a gift. Mary did this with GOD, hello? She surrendered all of the plans she had for her future, and did it joyfully because she knew she was loved. That’s what it means to say: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior”