You may be familiar with the passage in the Gospel of Matthew, where Mary and several family members approach Jesus while he is preaching. A disciple tells Jesus that his mother and family are there to speak with him. Jesus looks at his disciples, extends his arm, and says, “Who is my mother?” He goes on to say, “For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Mt 12:48, 50). At first glance it may sound as if Jesus is disparaging his mother. One imagines Mary overhearing Jesus and thinking, “Well, that is a nice how-do-you-do!” But when Jesus asked, “Who is my mother?” it must have prompted his disciples to think of the mother of Jesus, whom they knew as the humble yet very holy woman whose whole soul was filled with the presence of God.
In asking, “Who is my mother?” Jesus is encouraging us to look to her as a model of holiness. Who indeed is the Mother of Jesus? And what can she teach us about doing the will of the Father? Saint John Paul II once remarked that it is from Mary that we learn how to surrender to God’s will in all things. Mary, like her Son Jesus, perfectly united her will to the Father’s. She followed the inspirations of the Holy Spirit in all that she did. When an angel appeared to her and told her she would give birth to the Messiah, she humbly received and accepted the message with obedience, joy, and trust. People sing songs, paint pictures, and write poems about the moment of the annunciation, but few of us take the time to let that moment really sink in. Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel has been so abundantly analyzed that it is easy to become weary with the repetition and overlook how truly remarkable it is. If we consider her context and situation, it is clear that Mary’s ready acceptance of this astounding news is truly incredible. But it was possible because Mary was already in constant union with the Holy Spirit. She knew his voice, like we know the voices of our closest friends. When the time came for her to receive the most important inspiration of the Holy Spirit in her life and for the entire history of the world, Mary was ready.
Mary is our model of listening to the gentle voice of the Holy Spirit. Mary understands our needs and concerns. She can help us when we feel lost. She can help us find the courage to speak to our loved ones on the Spirit’s inspiration. She can help us pick up the pieces when we say the wrong thing. She can help us if we humbly implore her to intercede for those we love and bring them closer to her Son. Mary is our connection to the Spirit; she can help us learn to know his voice.
by Sr. Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP
Excerpted from her book The Prodigal You Love, published by Pauline Books and Media.