During his 26 year pontificate, John Paul II has frequently reminded us that the month of May is, in a particular way, dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.
In their reflection on the significance of Jesus' Passion, the Church fathers understood that when Jesus, dying in agony on the Cross, said to St John, "This is your mother", he was not merely entrusting Mary to John's care, but also making Mary the spiritual mother of all followers of Christ.
In Mary's life on earth, we see a strong woman, the author of the Magnificat, who was willing to embrace motherhood as a vocation from God, in all its joys and sorrows. Every mother will know exactly the meaning of the prophet Simeon's words to Mary, when Jesus was presented in the Temple in Jerusalem: "A sword will pierce your own heart".
She was with Jesus at every moment of his life: from his conception through his "hidden life" in Bethlehem, during his public ministry, at his crucifixion, and with the disciples on Pentecost Sunday, when the Holy Spirit came down upon them. She was both Jesus' model, and an example of perfect discipleship.
In following in the footsteps of Jesus, and in the richness of the Christian tradition, we find in Mary the perfect mediator between mankind and God, in whom we can confide our most private thoughts and deepest fears, asking her intercession in the confident knowledge that Jesus will hear her, as happened at the Wedding Feast at Cana.
In our own society, it is unfashionable to pray, and in a society which has devalued motherhood, it is profoundly counter-cultural to pray to Mary in particular. These are two good reasons this month why we should turn, in complete trust, to Mary our mother.
- Peter Westmore is Publisher of AD2000.