God the Father
In union with the Holy Spirit, God the Father entrusted his Son to Mary.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.” She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High.”
(Lk 1:26-32, NJB)
When he was twelve years old, well after the age of reason began for him, Jesus confirmed this entrustment by continuing to live in obedience to Mary and Joseph.
He went down with them then and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. And Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and with people.
(Lk 2:51-52, NJB)
As part of his last will and testament, Jesus also entrusted his disciples to her.
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. Seeing his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing near her, Jesus said to his mother, “Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple he said, “This is your mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(Jn 19:25-27, NJB)
In the gospel, when Jesus speaks to or about someone, he is not necessarily speaking to or about that person alone. More often than not, he is addressing or referring to all his followers. For example, at the Last Supper, when he broke the bread and said, “Take and eat; this is my body” (Mt 26:26, NIV), he was not giving the instruction only to the twelve apostles gathered together in the upper room. When he commanded, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:39, NIV), by “neighbor” he meant much more than the person living next door.
In the pronouncement, “Woman, this is your son”, “this” beloved disciple represented all whom Mary would be invited to look after as son or daughter. Similarly, “This is your mother,” was an injunction for all to take Mary as mother.
How do we go about taking Mary as our mother?
The following passage suggests the way.
Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”
He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”
(Lk 8:19-21, NIV)
That is, we become Jesus’ brothers and sisters by listening to God’s word and carrying it out; and by taking Jesus as brother, we automatically have Mary for mother.
Entrustment to Mary is not done simply by saying some form of prayer. We must live and act according to what God says.
And what does he say? In the gospel, he speaks from the mountain of Transfiguration, directing us to Jesus:
This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!
(Lk 9:35, RSV)
Mary’s statement at Cana completes the command:
Do whatever he tells you.
(Jn 2:5, NIV)
What Does Jesus Tell Us?
Here are five examples of Jesus’ sayings taken from the Gospel according to Luke.
At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will.”
(Lk 10:21, NAB)
“When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy.”
(Lk 11:2, NJB)
“For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
(Lk 18:14, NIV)
“Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill… But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.”
(Lk 6:21, 24, NJB)
And Jesus said to him [Zacchaeus], “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
(Lk 19:9, NAB)
The wisdom of Jesus may be quite puzzling and offensive. It is woeful to be rich? We are blessed when we hunger? God hides things from the learned but reveals them to the simple? No wonder his kinsfolk did not accept him.
He departed from there and came to his native place, accompanied by his disciples. When the sabbath came he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished. They said, “Where did this man get all this? What kind of wisdom has been given him? What mighty deeds are wrought by his hands! Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary, and the brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
(Mk 6:1-3, NAB)
“Where Did This Man Get All This?”
Although Jesus is fully divine, he is also human in every respect except sin. And as a human being, he had to grow. We see in the gospel that he appeared first as a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, and it took many years for him to become a mature adult. But not only did he grow physically, he also had to develop mentally and spiritually. “Jesus increased in wisdom” (Lk 2:52, NJB). He was not born with all his wisdom; he had to acquire it. As a human being, he would gain true wisdom in the same way that other human beings do – by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Now, the Holy Spirit works in us through many of our experiences; he teaches us through Scripture; he operates via some of the people we come in contact with – friends, acquaintances, teachers, and, perhaps more than all the others, our parents! And Jesus most certainly received much of his wisdom by way of Mary and Joseph, for, as we have seen, he “went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them” (Lk 2:51, NAB).
To illustrate Mary’s influence on Jesus, let us look at the Magnificat.
1. My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
2. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm.
3. He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
4. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
5. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.
(Lk 1:46-55, RSV)
Jesus and Mary
Let us put the words of Jesus and his mother side by side, so that their similarities can be seen more readily.
1. At that very moment he rejoiced [in] the holy Spirit and said, “I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
2. When you pray, this is what to say: Father, may your name be held holy. [God is holy means, among other things, that he is mighty, merciful, to be feared, full of strength.]
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown the strength with his arm.
3. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree.
4. Blessed are you who are hungry now: you shall have your fill… But alas for you who are rich: you are having your consolation now.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
5. And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.”
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.
An Inspired Canticle
Some biblical scholars suggest that the words of the Magnificat were not Mary’s own. Others declare them to be a collection of hymns and sayings from the psalms and elsewhere. Still others maintain that it was not Mary who uttered them, but Elizabeth, her cousin. The evangelist, however, was moved by the Holy Spirit to attribute the song to Mary – showing his readers the sort of person she was, revealing her thoughts and ideals, and the type of wisdom she passed on to Jesus.
“What kind of wisdom has been given him?… Is he not the carpenter, the son of Mary?” How could Jesus be wise if he was merely the son of Mary? How could Jesus’ teachings be thought of as wisdom if he had only learned it from his mother? Our answer is this: it is precisely because his mother was Mary, through her perfect co-operation with the Holy Spirit, that Jesus was directed to appreciate this kind of wisdom. It is precisely because his mother was Mary that Jesus was led to learn what he learned. It is precisely because his mother was Mary that Jesus eventually taught this wisdom to his disciples.
On the day Mary presented her son at the temple, a devout man named Simeon, prompted by the Holy Spirit, came up to her and prophesied the following:
“… – and a sword will pierce your soul too – so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.”
(Lk 2:35, NJB)
During her time on earth, Mary was not spared the trials and tribulations which accompany the life of a parent. By pondering in her heart all the joys and sorrows that passed her way, she came to understand much about human nature. By teaching her son the wisdom she learned from the Holy Spirit, she indirectly taught the world what was of importance, and what was not.
Entrustment to Mary was not an invention by some pious and sentimental soul. It was commanded by Jesus. He chose the most dramatic moment before his death on the cross to proclaim this integral part of God’s plan. He wanted all to come to Mary as her children; he wanted all to turn to her for guidance and protection; he wanted all to honour her, to cherish her, and to love her.
“This is your mother.” What did the disciple do when he heard Jesus say this? “And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” If you hear Jesus saying to you today, “This is your mother,” we hope that you, too, like a true and beloved disciple, will, from that hour, welcome her into your home, and into your heart.
Act of Consecration to Mary
Mother Mary, since Jesus from the cross gave you to me, I take you as my mother. And since Jesus gave me to you, please take me as your child. All that I am and have and do, I entrust entirely to your care.
I make this act of consecration with full knowledge and understanding that it entails commitment to a way of life, a way of life like that of Jesus at Nazareth, a way of life which he commands in the gospel. It is when your children become firmly dedicated to this life, it is when enough of your sons and daughters respond wholeheartedly to your call, it is when they listen to Jesus and do what he says, it is then that your Immaculate Heart will triumph, and an era of peace will begin to reign throughout the whole of Creation.