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The mother of God—success or failure?

Every impression exhausts itself. All life is a perpetual becoming. Impressions start out strong; they gain momentum for a while, then fade.

When a call to mission occurs, it stands out from everything that is life: temporal, short lived and mundane as something extraordinary, clear and definite, and though it may be denied, the call never fades.

Some 2,000 years ago in Israel, girls were betrothed between the ages of 12 and 14, and marriage was consummated within a year. 

Mary was betrothed to a man called Joseph in Nazareth, a small and unremarkable town. She was a descendant of the anawim, a lowly caste and looked down upon.

But before the marriage was consummated, Mary was found to be with child by the power of the Holy Spirit. It was divine motherhood propelled by the perfection of her being, so central to humankind’s redemption.

It was that obedience, faith and acceptance of the role she kept throughout her life and the fiat (let it be) she gave to Gabriel which started the entire Christian apostolate.

The yes, which reverberated in the heavens and on earth, was her consent to bear the son of God, but the yes had to be repeated throughout her life. She was the young girl, betrothed but pregnant, and facing humiliation and judgement by those around her.

She gave birth in the bleakness of winter, without help. She was heart-broken to hear Simeon’s prophecy when the young Jesus was first presented at the temple.

She was the devoted mother and first disciple of her son whom she accompanied throughout his years of preaching, only to become the mother of the crucified. It was Mary who was present at the foot of the cross and at the cenacle with the apostles.

She would happily have been tortured in his place. But that was not her call. It was the first impulse of obedience that equated to a life of complete sacrifice, acquiescence and perfection reserved for the purest of creatures.

This requires love absolute. Mary indeed is immaculate. We can see that it is not divine will to merely present a superficial connection between Christ and the Church, as a post factum consent, but rather one which is simultaneous, so that his sacrifice might be truly total: inseparably of the head and the members of the same body as one.

From the beginning to the end, Marian faith is acquiescence, not personal initiative. Mary accepted the difficulties, suffering and humiliation, conforming herself more to her son.

The yes of the servant mother remains central. However, it was not a life lived in passitivity. Twice, Luke emphasises that Mary kept these things in her heart and pondered them.

There is little doubt that she was a participant and the source of many remembrances in the gospels. 

Without her, Jesus himself would be less known, perhaps less close to us and, because we can so adore him with openness and simplicity, all must be attributed to the premise that his mother helped reveal the mystery of her only son.

Yet, it was that yes which is the foundation of genuine collaboration, Marian co-redemption. The yes before incarnation is a response to the divine call, which in itself contained the entire plan of redemption, including the cross and all it encompassed.

The various gifts of humanity in Jesus correspond with those analogous privileges in Mary. No one, who can give witness to faith and love of Christ, could refuse an analogous faith and love to his mother. The gifts assured a total faith, without limit, conditions or restrictions. It is an unwavering consent.

Mary Immaculate: it is an essential element in the divine plan that God, in becoming incarnate, does not violate his nature. She must be the perfection of being, who welcomes her son perfectly so must always correspond to his own perfection.

Can one measure success? Success is not one of the names for God. Rather, it is fruitfulness, which is of fundamental importance: in the parables relating to growth there is the fig tree, in the vineyard it is vine shoots and then the talents. Similarly, it must continue to apply today, emulating our Blessed Mary as a model of faith, courage, perseverance and trust.

The gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. God knows all our aptitudes and deficiencies, joys and the pains from cradle to grave. He knows each vocation given. His will is without recall.

It was the mission of Mary to give Christ’s humanity to humanity, for to give the Lord to us is to cause all of us to live the life of Christ; the most eminent apostolic work.

Caroline Hu