The birth of the Messiah, Jesus, the Son of God, is a testimony to the humility of God and the importance of humility in the plan of salvation. God chose a teenage girl who had no social standing to be the mother of the Son of God, who humbled himself to live on this earth as both God and man to save humanity in obedience to the Father. Mary gave birth to the Savior of the world in the humblest setting possible, in a grotto where animals were kept. The first to receive the message of this holy birth were not dignitaries, but the humble shepherds who returned glorifying and praising God for all they had seen and heard.
The Blessed Mother’s Role
The fact that Mary is the Mother of God also defines her role in God’s plan of salvation for humanity. Her purpose was not ended with the birth of Jesus. Mary and Joseph were the first and best examples of what faithful discipleship looks like because of their obedience and humility. Even though they were chosen to be the parents of the Son of God they were not spared the hardships of ordinary people, two of which we know about from Scripture, their flight into Egypt and the loss of the child, Jesus, in the Temple when he was twelve years old. After this event, little is known of the Holy Family for the next twenty years until Mary is invited to the Wedding Feast in Cana, and Jesus and his Disciples were also invited. When the wine ran out, Mary said to Jesus, “They have no wine.” Even though Jesus told Mary his hour had not yet come, Mary tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you,” knowing that whatever he does will be the right thing. Jesus responds to his mother’s request and performs his first miracle by changing water into wine, revealing his glory and his disciples began to believe in him.
Jesus began his public ministry with this miracle, and Mary reveals her role as intercessor, and her words to the servants continue to direct those who believe in Jesus, “Do whatever he tells you,” because we trust in his word.
After this event, Mary’s role in the life of Jesus as recorded in the Gospels is only incidental until she stands at the foot of the cross as Jesus is dying. In a book titled “AND FROM THAT HOUR ON” John Paul II states,
“From the time when Jesus, dying on the cross, said to John: “Behold your Mother”; from the time when “the disciple took her into his own home,” the mystery of the spiritual motherhood of Mary has been actualized boundlessly in history. Motherhood means caring for the life of a child. Since Mary is the mother of us all, her care for the life of man is universal.”
Mary’s Continued Presence
Mary has proven her universal motherhood over the centuries by appearing in many countries with messages of her maternal care and often looking like the local people such as Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico, Our Lady of La Salette in France, Our Lady of Akita in Japan, and many others. Her appearances are most always accompanied by miracles. The most renowned are Lourdes and Fatima. At Lourdes, she appeared to Bernadette and identified herself as the Immaculate Conception and created the healing waters that are experienced by millions of people each year. As of now, there have been at least 168 confirmed miracles that have been documented medically and hundreds that have not been documented. I personally know of at least two persons who received physical healing when experiencing the baths in Lourdes.
In Fatima 70,000 people witnessed the miracle of the sun in October 1917, which made the news throughout Europe. During the event, many miracles were reported. When John Paul was shot, he believed the bullet was redirected and his life was saved through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima to whom he had a personal devotion.
Mother Mary’s Message
Her messages are always about prayer and faithfulness to her Son Jesus for our happiness now and forever. She has asked the Faithful to pray the Rosary every day for the conversion of sinners. Of course, we all are sinners and we all have benefited from the prayers of others, some we will be surprised to know about when we finally reach heaven. That’s why we can never stop praying. We all have loved ones we are concerned about, and we can be confident that if we persevere in prayer Our Lord will offer them mercy in their last moments on earth if they have not been able to convert before then. There are, however, other souls who have no one on earth to pray for them, that’s why Mary has asked us to intercede on their behalf.
Mary, the First Tabernacle
Another example of Mary’s universal motherhood is her title, “Ark of the Covenant.” There exists a tradition of constructing tabernacles within statues of the Virgin Mary, emphasizing her role as the “first tabernacle.”
Pope Benedict XVI said,
“Mary is the Ark of the Covenant because she welcomed Jesus within her; she welcomed within her the living Word, the whole content of God’s will, of God’s truth; she welcomed within her the One who is the new and eternal Covenant, which culminated in the offering of his Body and his Blood: a body and blood received through Mary.”
The greatest gift God has given humanity, next to our salvation is the gift of the Holy Eucharist- the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. When we receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we are receiving the Son of God and the Son of Mary.
Deacon Tom Fox, C.K.H.S. is Co-Founder & Co-Director of Pilgrim Center of Hope with his wife, Mary Jane Fox. The two left their careers after a profound conversion experience and began working full-time in ministry at their parish in 1986. After several years and having impacted tens of thousands of families, the Foxes founded Pilgrim Center of Hope in 1993 as a response to the Church’s call for a New Evangelization. Deacon Tom is an invested member of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a Commander Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.
Answering Christ’s call, Pilgrim Center of Hope guides people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. See what’s happening & let us journey with you! Visit PilgrimCenterOfHope.org.