As we journey along the hard yet joyous road of motherhood, the most holy Theotokos accompanies each of us, mothers, and inspires us. As mothers, we have been granted the very special gift of experiencing in a very small and imperfect measure the feelings that the Mother of God must have gone through and still do as the Mother of us all.
When we read and pray the words of Saint Luke’s Gospel “And behold you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest.” We cannot but share the feeling of wonder and awe of the Theotokos, as she replies “How can this be…?”
Every mother has experienced a shadow of this wonder when she discovered or was announced that she carries a child in her womb. The mystery of conception is so great that it is with awe we must receive the gift of life within us. At times, the amazing joy is shadowed by practical considerations and anxieties, just as the Mother of God felt “troubled” since the time and circumstances did not seem propitious in human terms. Ultimately, any worries about material considerations are subdued by the unspeakable joy of motherhood.
The baby’s first cry, so dear and yet so painful upon the first breath of life marks in some way the pain of separation. After the pangs of labour, the joy of a mother at seeing her baby for the first time also contains a grain of sadness, what was perfect oneness is now two persons, mother and child. From that moment onwards, motherhood becomes an exercise of dying to oneself a little each day in order to give more. A mother gives up her own will and desires in order to minister to the needs of her child. Just as Mary follows her Son all the way to the Cross to “minister to him” and has her heart pierced, so does every Christian mother, called to bear the sufferings and to partake in the joys of their child.
Every step towards the independence of a child brings great joy to a mother’s heart. Can we ever forget our child’s baptism and first Holy Communion, their first word or first step, the emotion of the first day at school? And yet with each new step they take towards independence, they need us and want us a little less. The wisdom of love teaches us that letting go is a part of motherhood’s daily cross. We have to view our children as a gift and ourselves as the custodians of these special gifts, always remembering that all comes from God and belongs to Him. In this light, we can better understand the words of the Gospel: “he who loves son or daughter more than Me, is not worthy of Me” Matthew10:37.
Through all our anxious moment when our children are ill, sad or appear lost, we must remember, that these feelings are only a drop in the ocean compared to what the Mother of God must have felt caring and protecting the Son of God Himself. Similarly, what must She have felt when she discovered her Son missing while journeying away from Jerusalem! When she finds Him, just like any mother, she is both relieved and perturbed saying “Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have sought you anxiously?”
“She will be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with selfcontrol” Timothy 1:15. Motherhood lived in Christ is indeed a way to holiness and sanctification. As our children grow, we must diminish in their life, to allow for their own ministry to flourish. All four Gospels depict the Mother of Christ standing and watching by Cross as the apostles and Jesus’ followers have run away in fright. We stand with Mary and the Galilean women at the foot of the Cross, bearing our own children’s small crosses and sharing in the suffering of The Most Holy Mother of all.
By Mary and Martha