There are many Catholics who do not have Mary in their lives. I know, because for the longest time I was one of them. As a cradle Catholic, I did not understand Mary’s role and as a result I feared her and kept her at a distance. My fear was wrapped around the thought that she would lead me away from Jesus. I was convinced the devil used her precisely for that purpose so, I stayed away.
I can remember a time a priest made the unfortunate mistake of sitting next to me at my cousin’s wedding. I barraged him with questions about Mary and I’m sorry to say that in my lack of understanding I gave him a hard time. So hard, that he began to chain smoke, fidget nervously and drink (rather quickly) his scotch. I probably gave him a huge headache in the morning but, I am thankful and grateful to him. He was a good listener and my lack of “getting it” increased my desire to find it.
I will share with you a few things I have learned in my search from one of my favorite contemporary Theologians Tim Gray. In his book “The Luminous Mysteries” he sheds light on Mary’s role from John’s Gospel, the wedding feast of Cana and at the foot of the cross.
In both scriptures John calls Mary “woman.” The use of “woman” in these passages in reference to Mary is highly symbolic. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, we see Mary at the wedding feast of Cana, acting as a mother to this newly married couple by bringing their need to Jesus. At the end of the Gospel, we see Jesus giving His mother to “the disciple whom he loved.” Jesus says to John, “Behold, your mother!” And to Mary, He says, “Woman, behold your son!” Symbolically, the Apostle stands in for all of the followers of Christ; therefore, Jesus gives Mary to be our mother, too.
Mary acts as mother to us and advocates for us to Jesus. This may sound simple for those of you who have always known Mary, but for me this was new and I found this revelation confirmed through the people I met sharing their Mary stories with me. One man in particular, cried as he told me how abusive his father was and how he could not get close to Jesus, a male and father figure. He felt safe with Mary and trusted her to advocate for him as he put it, “she never fails me and I can get close to Jesus through her.”
Tim Gray points to the Old Testament as well to explain Mary’s role. He uses King Solomon as an example and explains how the Jewish culture viewed the role of king and queen differently than we do. King Solomon had hundreds of wives and hundreds of concubines so, who would be the queen? Since the king has one mother, his mother becomes the queen and rules the kingdom beside her son. She advocates the needs of the people to the king. In 1 Kings 2: 19-21 King Solomon says to his mother Bathsheba, “make your request, my mother; for I will not refuse you” Tim comments, that this foreshadows the intercessory role of the Mother of Jesus, the greatest and last King of Israel. She, like her Old Testament counterparts, brings the petitions of her children before the throne of Jesus Christ in Heaven.
He also reminds us that Mary does not try to run the show; she simply tells the servants at the Wedding feast to listen to Jesus, placing all the attention on her Son. Which brings me to a dream I had during my searching. I dreamt that I was waiting in a long line, we were waiting to be directed as to where to go next. When I looked to the front of the line I saw Mary directing the people. They were happy to see her and receive her council. Now keep in mind I haven’t found Mary yet, so seeing her as the one to direct me troubled my spirit. I thought surely when it is my turn I am in BIG trouble. Although the line was long, heaven’s time moves differently than earthly time and before I knew it I was face to face with Mary. She did not speak to me, but lowered her head and walked away with the intention for me to follow her, which I did. She led me to a cold, dark, stoned room with a stone bench that held Jesus. He was weeping and when he saw me He looked at his mother gratefully as though He had been waiting for me a long time. He then leaped into my arms and hugged me while He sobbed. I never questioned or doubted Mary’s role after that dream again.
Everyone has to find their own truth in their own time. I regret, that it has taken me this long to find and accept the gift of the Blessed Mother. I would have made better choices and saved myself from much sorrow, had I accepted her when I was young. I was wrong and deprived myself of countless blessings and Grace that she can provide. May you be wiser than me and allow Mary to lead you into the heavenly embrace of love, which is her son Jesus. For those who have been Graced to always have her in your life, you are very blessed indeed.