Explore The Depths Of Motherhood Fulfilled Through Mary's Life. Delve Into Her Receptive, Sensitive, And Compassionate Love. Gain Insight Into Her Unique Role As The Mother Of Jesus In This Excerpt From Manual For Women.

Mary As A Model For Motherhood

Mary is the perfect example of motherhood fulfilled. Her life embodies the feminine gifts of receptivity, sensitivity, and compassionate love. This excerpt, taken from Manual for Women, reflects on Mary’s unique role as the Mother of Jesus. 

To be the mother of Jesus was a privilege and a joy, but from the very beginning, Mary’s motherhood was tinged with a hint of the suffering to come. When Jesus was a baby, and Mary and Joseph brought him to present him at the temple, the prophet Simeon spoke the truth to them: “Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed” (Lk 2:34–35).

A sword will pierce your soul. Imagine Mary’s thoughts upon hearing those words. What kind of piercing would it be?

And of course, we know now that the sword that pierced Mary’s heart and soul was the passion and death of her son, Jesus. Mary was present with Jesus through every stage of his beating, whipping, torture, bleeding, cross-carrying, and crucifixion. She sat at the foot of the cross, helpless as he suffered, nailed to the cross above her; she received his lifeless body and wept for loss of her child, who was also her Lord.

Just as God pronounced to Eve in the Garden of Eden all those years ago, motherhood comes with its own unique forms of suffering. Many of us know the kind of suffering we risk when we pour out our very selves for the love of others, whether they be our children, our husband, our siblings, our parents, or our friends, but few of us have suffered the pain of watching helplessly as our innocent child is tortured and crucified before our eyes. But Mary knows that kind of pain. She willingly endured it for love of Jesus, to be present to him in his suffering. She could do nothing to relieve his physical suffering, but she could be a source of motherly, feminine compassion to him as he lived out his passion and death.

Jesus knew the worth of this gift of Mary’s motherly compassion, and he acknowledged it, even as he hung on the cross, bleeding and dying for love of you and me. In his last moments, as he suffered terrible physical pain, he saw us and he loved us. He asked God the Father to forgive his tormentors; he forgave the “good thief ” who hung beside him on a cross of his own, and he gave us his mother. At the foot of the cross, he saw the gift of Mary’s compassionate motherhood, and he chose to give that gift to all mankind. “When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:26–27).

With this generous gesture, Jesus highlights the gift of Mary’s compassion and multiplies her motherhood so that she might become the mother to all and the truest example of motherly love for every one of us.

Sometimes the worst part of suffering is feeling alone in it. As the perfect model of womanhood, Mary knew that, and she offered the gift of compassion as a silent witness to Jesus’s passion and death. She simply was present to him in his time of suffering, and she is with us in ours.

As St. Jerome, Father and Doctor of the Church, observes about Mary’s motherhood of not only Jesus but her spiritual motherhood of us all, “Even while living in the world, the heart of Mary was so filled with motherly tenderness and compassion for men that no one ever suffered so much for their own pains, as Mary suffered for the pains of her children.”

Let us aim to be mothers like that, true sources of womanly compassion, true companions, and ever-present sources of silent consolation, to all those whom God brings into our lives.

This article is taken from a chapter in Manual for Women by Danielle Bean and Dan Bean which is available from TAN Books



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