As we begin the Advent season leading to Christmas, the commemoration of the Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ, I would like to take a moment to reflect on a very behind-the-scene person who is often misunderstood and gets blamed for standing in the way of the Savior by many. It seems like it is easy to blame her for getting the glory reserved to the Almighty, and in particular, Jesus Christ who is the true Mediator between God and man. If one really understands her role and who she is, I do not think that the Blessed Mother ever intended to steal her Son‘s glory or try to overshadow Him in any way.
The Sacred Scriptures tell us that the Blessed Mother always walked silently and close to the Lord in His ministry. Furthermore, she spoke very little; and every time she spoke, she always led (and continue to lead) people to her Son. Over and over again, her personal testimonies in the Bible and Marian (apparition) messages were never about her nor her own glory. She always invited the children of the Church and humanity to return back to true faith and devotion, to seek conversion and love the Lord. Even the Rosary, the popular act of piety and prayer method that is often attributed to her, is not about her if we truly listen to the words! It is and has always been Jesus Christ, “the fruit of your womb.” When we pray all of our Marian devotions, whether, through the meditation of the Holy Rosary, the Seven Sorrows, or a particular novena attributed to one of her titles, we are reminded of her virtues and intercession before the Almighty.
In a day and age where many people are trying so hard to stand out and get attention to themselves at all costs, the Blessed Virgin Mary‘s humility and silence teach a very valuable (countercultural) lesson that we, especially as Christians, speak louder with our lives than our apparent words and actions. Our whole life needs to speak of God, of His love, and what He has done for us! Mother Mary spoke little, but her whole life testified to His glory and love, magnified His name, followed His will, and served Him in others. She did not waste time trying to justify herself. She simply allowed her life to speak life and pointed to Him.
When the archangel Gabriel greeted her as “full of grace,” (Luke 1:26) it does not mean that she is so full of grace that she has no need for God. It does not mean that somehow she earned or gained those grace by her own, born special or semi-god like paganistic beliefs, better or competing with the Savior Himself. She was full of grace because she was humble enough that she can fully receive the fullness of His grace into her heart. She was favored by the Almighty because He saw the purity of her heart and was able to fill it totally with His loving grace.
Before she was born, He formed and set her apart for the mission to be the mother of the Savior. However, God was still respectful of her freedom and personal choices, and that was why the Annunciation happened in such a respectful and loving way… as the whole world literally hanged by a thread as it waited for the Virgin‘s willing response. And yes, she did respond in conformity to His will because her whole life, from the beginning, has always been theocentric and full of His loving grace. That was why she was able to trust in Him even though she did fully not understand His will at the moment of the Annunciation!
Hence, the Blessed Mother taught us what it means to hope as believers. Even though we might have questions, are confused, uncertain, and at times filled with doubts, we are called to trust in the loving faithfulness of God. Our trust is not based on how one thing should or need to be, on some ideologies or systematic set of thoughts, or how we would like things to happen! Our hope is based on the sure and certain relationship, the solid promise and faithfulness of God whose love never fails. It is based on the holistic knowledge of the past, present, and future, recalling what He had done in the past for us so we can be grounded in Him in the present moment as well as the future. This is possible because there is no beginning or end for God — for everything is in the eternal now before Him — in His presence. He is in control and above the chaos, unknowns, even above our human fears and reservations, and we put our trust in Him. His faithfulness invites us to be grounded in His love even in times of uncertainty. Hence, Mary, our Mother, is full of grace and full of hope because she believed, trusted, and walked with the Lord at all times.
If Mary had everything easy, she would not be able to experience for herself the personal and efficacious love of God and His grace in her very own life. When we pray and meditate the lives of our Lord and the Blessed Mother through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, we would definitely know that if she had everything handed to her and everything was smooth sailing, she would not have been a caring mother for her Son nor a real example of discipleship. Nevertheless, we can tell from the Sacred Scriptures how her courage, humility, perseverance, and continual trust in God‘s will — even when it was extremely hard at times in her very own life.
As a young girl, she chose to believe and give her everything to His will at the Annunciation; and as an elderly woman, she chose to stand by the Cross of her only Son, to suffer and be with Him in His sufferings. As a young girl, she chose to embrace the possibility of death by stoning when she opened herself up to the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit as to bear the Incarnate Word; as an elderly woman, she chose to embrace the tremendous grief and pain to watch her only Son died, a pain that no mother would want or wish upon others. Nonetheless, from the beginning of her fiat (at the first moment when the archangel Gabriel came to her) to the last moment when she stood by the Cross and stayed with Jesus‘ own Apostles after His Ascension, Mary showed us her personal and faithful commitment to God at all costs.
The Blessed Virgin, as well as the saints who followed in her footsteps, chose to give her all to Him because her heart knew and loved Him. She took the leap of sure supernatural faith even when natural reason failed to comprehend, convince, or grasp the transcendental possibility. The Blessed Mother‘s faith was opened to true love which gave life through the incarnation. Her fiat was grounded both in reason and faith by her very own understanding of God. This faith in the Almighty, even when everything else seemed to fail, grounded her in the eternal, never-changing, everlasting, and faithful love of God that saved, redeemed, and delivered His people throughout history. She knew and understood the stories from of old and the promises He gave to her forefathers in the Sacred Scriptures, which highlighted and taught that their total faith and fidelity to God helped them to overcome the evils of this world.
Therefore, as we live our life of discipleship, may we recall the simple, genuine, and unpretentious examples of the Blessed Virgin Mary who spent her life out of the limelight to truly give herself in genuine service to the Lord. May we learn from her the true value of words that are beyond verbal expressions and attention-seeking intentions so that our lives of humble service and faithful perseverance will genuinely speak and point others to Christ. May our genuine desire to be present and attentive to each and every encounter and person allow Christ to speak to us, and through us, them, too. This is why, even when her earthly journey ended, she continues to guide believers to the source of grace with her humble, faithful, and motherly love. She continues to call us back to the Lord through her numerous (Marian apparition) messages. She desires nothing more than for us to know, follow, and give our lives to God! As a loving mother, she desires nothing more than for us who are her children — entrusted to her by Christ Jesus on the Cross — to be saved, lived our lives in the truth, and share eternal life with God forever.