On Mary, With Gratitude

As I prepare for Thanksgiving, Advent, and our reading series on Jacob of Serug’s homilies on Mary, it seems only right to pause and give thanks for the Mother of God. She has become an important model for me in many ways, and like Jacob, I hope to speak of her with love and reverence.

Mary as Holy Yes

Mary is a model of joyful submission to the Lord. She had a choice, and she said yes to God. Mary paid dearly for this choice; her decision transformed and ordered her life. Yet it was her choice, her desire to say yes to God. We learn from her about acting in freedom and love. Jacob of Serug says her choice was beautiful because freedom was present, and contrasts her with “the sun [which] is beautiful but it is not praised by spectators, because it is known that its will does not give it light.” (p 25) And she kept saying yes, as she raised her son to be a humble, holy man, as she allowed him to go on his mission to the world, as she watched him die.

Jacob of Serug points out that God did not ask just anyone to be the mother of his son. Mary’s soul was beautiful and humble and her heart was desirous of serving God. As I contemplate Mary, I am inspired to prepare my soul to hear God speak. I wonder what the Lord may ask of me, and I ask for her courage to say yes.

Mary as Union with God

Mary experienced a closeness with our Lord that no other human being (or angelic being) has been privileged to know. Knit in her womb, carried in the fiber of her being, formed from her own flesh and blood, was the Creator of the Universe. What a mighty privilege! What a fearsome responsibility! What would it be like to feel the light of the world growing inside you, so real and present that you can feel him kicking? What can Mary teach me about what it means to be the bearer of the Lord to the world? I may not give birth to the next Christ child, but I do carry the Holy Spirit within me. As I ask her how she was transformed by her pregnancy and birth, I see more clearly how God’s presence within me is shaping and forming me.

Mary as Love and Service

Contemplating Mary as the one who births the savior of the world is awesome, overwhelming in its grandeur. Contemplating Mary as the mother who raised the Lord is earthly, humble. No one has loved Christ the way Mary has. But what if we did? What if we asked Mary to show us what it was like to hold the infant Lord, to feel his tiny fingers wrapped around ours? To help up the boy Jesus after he fell and bandage his skinned knee? Or to show us her grown son as he set out into the world, to see the veins in his hands and the dirt on his feet and to love every bit of him completely? What would that do to our relationship with Christ? I believe if we learn from Mary about her love for her son, our love will grow and expand and our gratitude for the sacrifice God made in sending his son to earth will swell.

There is no other human being who has known Christ as intimately, served him as closely, or loved him as deeply as Mary. I have found that as my knowledge of and relationship with Mary has grown, so too has my love for and desire to serve her son, Jesus.


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