The Immaculate Virgin Mary is the true icon of motherhood for the Church and for humanity. She has been present as mother from the very beginning of Christianity. She is there at the foot of the cross when Jesus dies. She is with the disciples as the Church is born at Pentecost. And, by tradition she is assumed into heaven and crowned Queen of Heaven and Earth as mother of the Church. Scripture indisputably records her presence throughout the life of Jesus, and although her assumption and coronation are not recorded in Scripture, they follow logically. Through the ages, the Immaculate Virgin Mary has continued to be present in the life of the faithful, with countless apparitions to individuals, like her appearance in Mexico as Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Like so many realities in our time, motherhood is not well-revered and understood by many in society, and even within the Church. Motherhood, like so many elements of our modern world, has been confused by our ability to manipulate and shape life according to our will, rather than according to the will of God. This is one of the most beautiful elements of the witness of Mary of Nazareth, that by her fiat she is enabled by God’s grace to take on the role of Mother of God.
Mary’s fiat voluntas tua, “thy will be done,” is her response to the message of the angel Gabriel, and with this response, she establishes the role of motherhood for herself and all mothers. When a woman generously gives of herself in motherhood — whether biological motherhood, motherhood by adoption, or spiritual motherhood — she echoes Mary’s beautiful response to the message she receives from God. The beauty of Mary’s humble acceptance of God’s plan is a model for all women and men in the human community.
One of my favorite titles of the Immaculate Virgin Mary is “Mother of the Church.” Scripture certainly supports this expression regarding Mary of Nazareth and, through the ages, she has made manifest her presence as a loving mother. As we celebrate Mothers’ Day this May, I believe the Blessed Virgin Mary is an inspiration to all mothers and all of us who love our mothers. Motherhood is a unique and beautiful role that God has ordained for women, and it is important that we continue to celebrate this special vocation. There are presently many discussions about the proper roles of men and women, and even debate regarding whether there are distinct roles for us as male and female as God has created us. As people of faith, we know that God has revealed to us that there are distinct and wonderful roles for men and women that are complementary but unique to each. Motherhood is one of those roles. We all benefit from motherhood lived lovingly. Even though Mary is the only perfect mother, we joyfully revere our mothers even with their imperfections.
In closing, I return to the beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, mother of the Americas. The story of Guadalupe has elements that highlight the beauty of Mary’s motherhood and of motherhood as an essential role in the human family. The story of Mary’s encounter with Juan Diego on the hill of Tepeyac is a beautiful expression of the bond between a mother and child. Mary speaks to Juan Diego in an endearing and intimate manner as she calls him, “Juan Diegito” or “my little boy Juan.” This calls to mind the natural tendency of every mother to speak to her children in this manner. Mothers will tell you that whatever age their children may attain, they continue to be their “little boy or girl.”
Let us ask the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary for all of our mothers living and deceased. May she continue to be a beautiful model of the gift of motherhood for all of the human family.