Love Like Mary
There’s a moment in our lives when we are faced with the question: Is it worth it to love another person? When we are young, it seems falling in love is easy. There is romantic love to discover, new friends to make who seem to offer us something new and out of the ordinary. But over the years we may have the experience of loss, pain, and hurt that tempers the question. Sometimes, cynicism can creep into our lives and we can resist love because we think: Do I want to make myself vulnerable and risk being hurt?
If we are not careful, this habit of being safe and not taking risks can move from not loving one person to include entire groups. Soon, we can see others not as new opportunities for love and growth but as “those people” or as threats to our security and well-being. Anyone who currently lives on earth is susceptible to this fear—simply turn on a TV or pick up a newspaper: global warming, a pandemic filled with sickness and death. We live in a wounded world that seems to be getting worse day by day.
In the final weeks of Lent and especially during Holy Week, we must return to this question: Is love worth it? Saint Alphonsus Liguori believed that to understand the love of God we must always contemplate the crib, the cross, the table, and Mary. The icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help reminds us of these great mysteries. In the icon we see Jesus as an infant. The passion and cross are present in the arms of the angels, and Jesus, as the great mystery of the Eucharist, is present in his mother’s arms. Mary, of course, stands amid the entire mystery.
What can we learn from her? Mary stands in silence, observing the strange and unfathomable passion of her Son—yet she doesn’t despair. She does not disengage from what is unfolding but contemplates what is taking place. She believes the promise of the Lord will be fulfilled.
Mary is the model of discipleship for serving the Lord. Like her, we must not run from what seems to be such a hurt and sorrowful world around us. We, like Mary, must risk trusting in the promise of the Lord that he can and does make all things new. She teaches us to risk loving one another. She helps us to understand that love is worth it even though it may be painful. The sorrow of Good Friday is soon transformed into the joy of Easter morning. In fact, the love Mary risks with her Son is soon shared: from the cross Jesus gives us his mother to love as our own. Let us then risk loving like Mary and Jesus did. And, in doing so, allow the power of the resurrection to come alive in us.