Today is an excellent opportunity to reflect on Mary’s presence in the Gospels as we honor her as the mother of God.
Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. (Lk 2:19)
What can you do to emulate Mary?
How can you support the people in your life?
Do you show gratitude to the women in your life?
As we heard on the Fourth Sunday of Advent and on Christmas, the Gospels of Matthew and Luke proclaim that Mary conceived Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:20; Lk 1:35). Luke provides additional detail about Mary’s reaction to the annunciation of Jesus’ birth. When the angel Gabriel appears, Mary is frightened and perplexed to hear that she will bear the Son of God. Yet Mary accepts her calling to be his mother, saying, “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). After Jesus’ birth, Mary presents Jesus at the temple, consecrates him to the Lord and raises him to be wise and strong (Lk 2:22-40). Mary accepts and dutifully fulfills her calling from God. Her willingness can be an inspiration to us all.
While the readings for today’s feast focus on the annunciation to Mary in Luke, the Gospel of John tells us unique details about Mary’s interactions with Jesus in adulthood. Highlighting her status as mother, John does not refer to Mary by name but rather says that the mother of Jesus was a catalyst for his first miracle (Jn 2:1-11). At the wedding at Cana, Mary learns that the bride and groom are out of wine. She tells Jesus of their predicament, expecting him to help, but he resists: “How does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come” (Jn 2:4). Although Jesus does not think it is time to reveal his identity, Mary disagrees. The evangelist John does not explicitly state how or why Mary requests that Jesus act. She may know that it is in fact the time for Jesus to reveal his identity and power. She might simply recognize a couple in need and want Jesus to help them because he can. Although Jesus does not say he will comply with her request, Mary tells the attendants to “Do whatever he [Jesus] tells you” (Jn 2:5). Ultimately, Jesus changes water into wine as his first public sign of power in John. Though Jesus was resistant, Mary was persistent. Her determination can be an inspiration to us all.
John also describes Mary’s presence at the cross during Jesus’ crucifixion. When most of Jesus’ followers had fled during his time of need, Mary along with three other women and the beloved disciple stayed with him during his final hour. Recognizing the pain of watching him suffer, Jesus says to his mother, “Here is your son” (Jn 19:26). And to the unnamed disciple, Jesus says, “Here is your mother” (Jn 19:27). Knowing he was nearing death, Jesus arranges love and protection for Mary and asks her to extend the same care to the beloved disciple. Mary’s presence at the cross shows her steadfast commitment. Her fortitude can be an inspiration to us all.
Today is a day to recognize the important role of Mary in the life of Christ. She accepted her call, nurtured Jesus and his ministry and stood with him until death. This feast is also a fitting opportunity to recognize the work of the mothers, grandmothers, aunts and women elders and teachers in our midst. Like Mary, these women give love, guidance and support that are essential to the world.