As the last page of the calendar flips from 2022 to 2023, and not yet knowing what the new year will bring, it is fitting we entrust our lives to our spiritual Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Every time we pray the “Hail Mary” we invoke her care, “pray for us now, and at the hour of our death.” Within the powerful phrase of supplication, we acknowledge the need for her continued help as our Mother, so we too, can be united with her Son more closely, during our earthly pilgrimage and forever in eternity.
It is fitting, therefore, that the first day of a new year be dedicated to honoring the Mother of God for her unique role in salvation and her continued help she willingly gives to her spiritual children. We often use the description of Jesus as the Son of God, who took on human flesh and is like us in all things but sin. The same descriptor can be used for Mary as well. Although she was sinless from the moment of her conception, she suffered many times throughout her life, as we all do, and never once lost faith in God or in her Son’s mission to conquer sin and death.
Mary’s fiat, or her affirmative answer to the angel Gabriel’s request from God, began a life which would be marked by many hardships and pain. Of course, it all started before Christmas when she was pregnant with Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. How frightening it must have been for her, a woman who had no relations with a man. Through her faith, she believed in the promises of God and worked through any anxiety she may have had in concert with God’s grace.
She would then give birth to the Savior in the lowliness of a stable, fit for filthy animals and never meant to be inhabited by humans, let alone an infant. She was there with Joseph because there was no room for them in the inn. By today’s standards, it must have been akin to giving birth under a viaduct. Up to this point, Mary hardly had a worry-free life.
Soon after Christ’s birth she would be fearful of the Holy Family’s safety and would flee at night to a land of strangers. After eight days, as the law prescribed, she presented Jesus in the Temple. She was met in the temple by Simeon, a devout and righteous man in the presence of the Holy Spirit, who prophesized, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and you yourself a sword will pierce.” Simeon told Mary her life would include great sorrow because she is the Mother of God and would be a participant in the destruction of sin and death, not an easy and painless undertaking.
Then, too, there was that desperate search for their son for three days when she and Joseph lost him in Jerusalem. When Jesus grew and began his mission, she followed Him in his wanderings, and was reminded again and again, that His task took him beyond the confines of family and human sonship. Those who do the will of the Father (as she did) were his mother, sister, brother, and family as Jesus reminded her. And as he hung dying before her eyes, she was given into the care of another for the earthly bond with her Son would now be broken.
When her son was being executed on the cross, she was helpless to ease Jesus’ pain as he suffered and died. She could not even hold her son or comfort him during his agony. This was what it was like to be the Mother of God. For in becoming human He had entered through her into the pain of all humanity of which she shared. The Mother of God experienced the pain of many mothers who rightly worry about their own children, every day and in every time.
The Blessed Mother knew and lived the hardships of earthly life. She has never been insulated or spared from its effects and is compassionate to all her children now undergoing such pain and trial. Through her intercession, she is always working as our advocate to remain faithful disciples of her Son.
As we begin the new year, take to heart the words you pray often, “pray for us now, and at then hour of our death” because we share in the motherhood of Mary. We are her children because we are made one with the Son, her Son, Jesus Christ. As our spiritual mother she never forgets her children, here on earth and in heaven.
What a great way to start a new year by spending time with our spiritual Mother, Mary most holy.
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