Newsline , Society

Mary for Mother’s Day

Posted on Sunday, May 9, 2021
by AMAC Newsline

AMAC Exclusive by David Deavel


Progressive public figures today seem intent on “erasing” motherhood. Democratic Representative Cori Bush infamously referred in congressional testimony to “birthing people” instead of mothers. Despite the insanity, most people believe in mothers and look to understand this most amazing and humbling role that mothers play in society, often looking, as a couple of scientists did recently at the science journal, to the animal kingdom. “From blue-tongues to elephant doulas: Motherhood across the animal kingdom”, is a delightful romp through the many ways in which animal mothers operate. No “birthing creatures” here. Given the biblical advice, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard,” and other hints to learn from the animal kingdom, it’s not a bad idea. Once we’ve done that, however, looking to biblical figures themselves is an even better one. For mothers, why not look to Mary, the mother of Jesus?

            The Bible is filled with amazing women from Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Rahab, and Ruth in the Old Testament to a host of figures in the New Testament, the first of which is Mary. And in her story, we learn a lot about the blessings, the struggles, and the glories of motherhood.

            Faith. Unlike most mothers, Mary’s pregnancy begins with an explicit challenge to receive the child in her as an act of obedience to God. Her own response to the angel Gabriel, “Be it done unto me according to thy word,” is great general advice for everybody—accepting God’s plan for us is the way to live. But it is particularly apt for mothers for whom the carrying, the bearing, and the raising of children is a different and more physical kind of sacrifice than fatherhood is for men. For many in the first world, that sacrifice no longer makes sense or attracts them, one of the reasons why American fertility hit another low mark this past year, and demographers are now speaking of a “birth dearth” and a coming population collapse in many parts of the world. Mary holds out the possibility of thinking about motherhood as a call from God, the acceptance of which will mean being “blessed,” as her cousin Elizabeth calls her.

            The Keeper of Memories. A thousand jokes have been launched about women’s memories. Question: Why are women good as archeologists? Answer: They love digging up the past. Yet this ability to keep together the memories of children (and also their fathers) is one thing that makes them great. At age twelve, the boy Jesus is discovered, terrifyingly to his mother, to be not in the caravan leaving Jerusalem. When he is at last discovered, he bewilderingly asks her, “Did you not know that I had to be in my father’s house?” Yet he comes back with Mary and Joseph “and was obedient to them.” Mary takes the terrifying, the bewildering, and the pleasing together, keeping “all these things in her heart.” Good mothers keep track of their children and how God works in them in mysterious ways. This is why the Protestant theologian John Calvin called Mary “the treasurer of Grace.”

            Offering the Child to the World. For Dads, there is a moment when children are as tall as you are or beat you one-on-one. For moms, those moments come very early. For them, it’s really the moment when she realizes that her child is competent and ready to act in the world in a new way. When Mary is at the wedding feast at Cana, she sees trouble on the horizon when the wine is running out. She tells those who are in charge, “Do whatever he tells you.” This is a big moment for any mother in the life of her child. For Christians, it is even more important, for it witnesses to a task important for all mothers and all Christians: to point to the Lord for help.

            Surrender and Continuing Presence:  Early on in her motherhood, Mary is told by old Simeon in the Temple that her son will be a sign of contradiction for many. And she too will experience grief: “a sword will pierce your own soul also.” Every mother knows the grief that is present in watching a child be attacked and suffer. Mary represents that to an extreme, and she shows the calm strength of mothers faced with such a situation. Unlike all of his disciples but one, she remains at the foot of the Cross when her son suffers an agonizing death, perhaps pondering in her heart that original pledge of faith—be it done unto me according to thy word.

            Mary’s faith is rewarded, however, for she sees that son risen again. It must also have been hard to see him leave again when he ascended into Heaven. Surrender yet again. Yet, she continues his work. It often goes unmentioned, but amid his disciples at Pentecost, there in their midst, praying, is Mary herself praying for all those gathered around her son that they too would have God’s Spirit placed in them and do God’s will even if it hurts. A great mother loves her children and also loves all those around them. She becomes a source of wisdom and strength. Mary fulfilled that role wonderfully. That is one reason why, as she herself sang, “All generations shall call me blessed.”

            A society that wants to survive and thrive can never forget the importance of mothers and why each one is, in her own beautiful way, also blessed. Mary presents how that blessedness can be received. She responds to her calling with faith and trust, attention and thought, a sense of calm as she watches her child go into the world, a surrendering to God’s will, and a dedication to do his work in a circle much larger than her family. Mary is a model for everyone, but especially mothers. 

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