Mary the Mother of Jesus the Son of God

I don’t think we can come close to imagining Mary’s love for and devotion to her son.  She alone among all mothers can truly be described as the mother of the “perfect child.” One day, we will know Mary, as she truly is rather than according to the historical and theological embellishments.  The truth that we know of Mary testifies of a remarkable lover and disciple of the Lord.  She truly is revealed in Scripture as a woman “full of grace.”

Mary’s response to the message of God’s angel Gabriel shows the humility and submission of an earnest disciple of the Lord, “Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38) She fully yields to the Lord’s word and the movement of the Holy Spirit in her life.

Her cousin Elizabeth describes Mary as the “mother of my Lord” and as blessed because she believed the promises of the Lord.  Discipleship begins and ends with grace from the Lord and belief from the disciple.

Mary responds to Elizabeth’s interaction with her by proclaiming her “Song of Praise” that begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.”  (Luke 1:46-47)  Mary consistently demonstrates the appropriate posture of the Lord’s disciple.  She seeks to magnify and glorify the Lord, not herself, and her joy is in the Lord and not the world.

Scripture describes Mary as marveling at what is said about Jesus.  I imagine this describes a consistent response to Jesus’ life by his mother.  From the announcement by Gabriel onward, she marvels and treasures mysteries in her heart, as she conceives, gives birth to and raises God’s son. As with any disciple of Jesus, her life includes wonderful glory and painful sorrow and trials.  With Mary, these are much more extreme and felt more deeply than with others.

Mary wasn’t perfect and surely worried and feared for her son, as most mother’s do.  I wonder if like my mom (and wife) she exhorted Jesus to “Be careful!” each time he ventured out the door.  How keenly her eye must have been on Jesus the toddler, the teenager, the young man and then the Prophet out in the world.  Still, we see Mary’s family as being large and full of life and sibling dynamics.  She was a mother to more than to Jesus, and she was nothing less than mother to Jesus.  She is first and foremost Jesus’ mother.  In a sense, she also had to drink the cup of God’s wrath.  Actually, not “in a sense;” she did drink from that cup the Father gave to Jesus, as his sacrifice and suffering must have overwhelmed her being with pain and shuddering.  Her letting go of Jesus for Jesus and for all people reveals the “greater love” of giving up one’s very life.

At the dedication of Jesus at the Temple, the prophet Simeon proclaims to Mary that a “sword will pierce through your own soul also.”  She knows Jesus through his entire life and follows him through his ministry to the cross.  Can we even approach coming to terms with how Jesus must have honored and loved his mother during her lifetime?  His devotion to his mother can only be equaled by her pain and sorrow at his death.

In the Liturgy of the Stations of the Cross, Station 13: “Jesus’ Body is Removed from the Cross” includes the text taken from Lamentations 1:12 that seems to express Mary’s thoughts at the death of her son, “Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by? Look and see if there is any sorrow like my sorrow, which was brought upon me, which the Lord inflicted on the day of his fierce anger.”

She was there watching, feeling the sword pierce her heart and it breaking to pieces.  Darkness must have seemed to cover her world, as it covered Jerusalem during the crucifixion.  John tells us, “Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, 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.” (John 19:25-27)

There is the time recorded in the gospel when Mary accompanies her other children to go apparently help Jesus.  Mark writes, “Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.  And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”” (Mark 3:20-21)  His mother and his brothers came to “capture” him and take him home.  I wonder if Mary is thinking and telling her other sons something like, “Look, He’s not out of his mind; he is God’s Son; he is the Messiah!  He’s doing what he has to do.”  Or, did Mary give in to that fleeting hope that maybe they could get him to come home and just stay and put this whole thing off a while.

We face all of these dilemmas to a much lesser extent in following and loving Jesus.  We cannot avoid the sword piercing our soul.  We cannot avoid the dark day of the cross and nights of the tomb that come into our lives.  We cannot live in the fallen world as Jesus’ disciples and avoid feeling sorrow and tasting bitterness.  As it was to John in Revelation and to so many of the prophets, the story of God’s redemptive-salvation comes tasting sweet in our mouths but at times causing bitterness in our stomachs.  (Revelation 10:9-10) This is why the call of Revelation is for “patient endurance.”

Mary walked through the heights of being the mother of the most wonderful person who ever did or ever will live.  She experienced the sweetness of Jesus.  At the cross, she descended into the bitterness of the valley of the shadow of death.  Our discipleship may follow similar paths of sweetness and bitterness.  I hope that we will be faithful to stand with and for Jesus, as Mary was faithful among all people.  We will then be blessed, as she is blessed.  I pray that our devotion to Jesus will honor his mother and make her glad.


The reunion of the risen Christ with his mother Mary is not recorded in the Scriptures.  I imagine this intimate event was so wonderful and joyful to be indescribable while also being a private celebration between a mother who smothers in loving embrace the son she thought she had lost.  Had it been witnessed and reported by any of the gospel authors, it surely would have become the second time in the gospels that Jesus wept; although, this time his weeping would be tears of joy.  What joy and gladness to heal Mary’s broken heart and turn her mourning to rejoicing!