The Strength of Mary
The word mother can evoke many ideas and images. When we think of Mary, the Mother of God, we may picture a passive, quiet woman. Most artistic depictions of the annunciation illustrate her reflexively saying yes to God in accepting the angel’s invitation to be the mother of Jesus.
When I think of a mother—based on my experience with my own mother—I consider the quality of strength. Even though she was the mother of ten, my mother had a full life. She worked a full-time job outside the home, cooked, took care of her family, was involved in the activities of her children, and still made time for church volunteer work and a social life. My mother exemplified incredible strength, which I believe is true of many matriarchs.
Strength is often associated with active, aggressive behavior. But that is only one way it is expressed. Unfortunately, we live in a society that tends to celebrate the hard-hitting approach to “get what’s mine.” But there’s also the “strong, silent type.” I believe a mother’s strength is strong and silent.
In the Gospel account of the annunciation, Mary immediately leaves to go to the hill country and visit her cousin Elizabeth. For women who know what it is to be blessed with a pregnancy, I’m sure you’ll agree that the idea of making a long journey, most likely by donkey, up into the hills is not appealing. But the Scriptures tell us despite this downside, Mary went in haste. Why? First, she wished to appreciate the great miracle of God’s work. Elizabeth’s seemingly barren womb was now teeming with the life of John the Baptist. Second, she traveled to share the good news of the new life growing in her own (virginal) womb—home of the long-awaited Messiah.
Mary’s yes to God not only grew physically within her but moved her to action—the desire and need to share what God had done to and for her. Sharing even in the face of public scandal required inner strength for this mother traveling alone. This character asset that our Blessed Mother displayed is what we, her children, are called to emulate today.
Are we, like Mary, ready to seek out the miraculous around us? Are we willing to risk being positive in a negative world? Can we share the joy and love we find in Mary’s Son, Jesus the Christ, with others? Or are we paralyzed with fear, viewing the glass as half-empty? Let’s imitate Mary’s strength and share the Good News she proclaims in her canticle in Luke: God “the Mighty One has done great things for me.”