We have always put aside the month of May to celebrate the Blessed Mother. May is the time for May crowning’s and processions. However, you may be surprised to know that September also has Marian feasts. Sept. 8—Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary; Sept. 12—Holy Name of Mary; Sept. 15—Our Lady of Sorrows; Sept. 24—Our Lady of Mercy. So, for September, let’s talk about our Blessed Mother.
There is much we do not know about Her. We do not know when She was born or when She died, but we can place Her in history through Scripture. We know where She lived and who some of Her friends and family were. But the question remains: Why does Mary persist through the ages? What is Her appeal? The answer is to be found in Her human journey with God which in reality is our journey too.
When we first meet Mary, She is the object to an ugly rumor. She is pregnant without a husband. According to the norms of that time, Her fiancé, Joseph, should deny Her and put Her at a distance. That She was innocent was not believed, and the truth was made known to Joseph in a dream.
People down the ages who have suffered from fake rumors, who have had their reputation soiled, or who have been misunderstood and maligned—or who are unwed mothers—all these people have identified with Mary. Then, too, there is the very human anxiety and fear: what was this all about anyway, this Mother of God business?
“How can this be?” She asked the Angel incredulously. “What does God want?”
Scared and full of questions, Mary is all those people who, throughout the ages, have cried out, “How can I tackle this challenge?” “How can I survive?” “What does God want of me?”
After Jesus’ birth, Mary has to flee with Her husband and child and become a refugee in a foreign land. And so, She immediately joins the countless homeless huddling in the world’s doorway. These lowly ones, these displaced persons, they can identify with Mary.
Then at the end, Her Son was brought to a mock trial, beaten and humiliated, hung on a cross. Mary arrives in time to see Him hanging there, every inch of Her mind and body wanting to go to Him. She is forced by the soldiers to keep her distance. And, suddenly, every parent who has seen their child carted off to prison; every parent who wants more than anything else to help their grown children deal with alcoholism or other addictions; every parent who sees their children going through a divorce but are told to keep their distance, can identify with Mary as they pray and suffer in silence.
Finally, She cradles the dead body of Her Son in Her arms and sobs uncontrollably. There She is, once more, every parent who has lost a child; anyone who has lost a friend or family member can identify with the Mary of the Pieta. This ageless woman who savored the ups and downs of life has given to us a legacy. “Son, behold your Mother.”
She experienced many of the same joys and sorrows as us. She is like us in so many ways. Mary remained faithful to the will of God in all the unfairness of life. She clung to God in motherhood, in widowhood, and as a wanderer in a foreign land.
And so, Mary becomes a woman for all ages. That is the secret of Her enduring popularity and Her appeal. Mary did not start out as great and travelled a privileged path. She was the handmaid of the Lord and traveled the lowly path throughout Her life. But then God, who is mighty, has done great things for Her. God has lifted Her up when down and fed Her when hungry.
There is a powerful lesson to be learned from Mary’s example: it is okay to be ordinary. Mary reminds us that ordinary people can attain spiritual greatness that exceeds anything the world offers. Those who do their work faithfully; parents who rear their children lovingly; those who reach out to others in so many ways; those who keep the faith through trial and tribulation, they are the true heroes of the world.
Mary is a great Saint and disciple, and everything in Her life has touched our lives. There is not a tear or a smile of Mary’s that we have not felt. There is not a question and a hurt and a pain and a suffering that we cannot identify with. No wonder all generations will call Her Blessed.