Mother of Jesus
Who is Mary?
Mary is the Mother of Jesus, Mary is the woman, who, when invited by God to carry his Son in her womb said yes. She gave birth to him in Bethlehem, which we celebrate at Christmas, she brought him up in the Jewish faith in the small town of Nazareth at the end of his life she followed him to Calvary. She watched him die at the hands of the Romans.
After he had risen from the dead she waited in prayer together with those who followed Jesus and she experienced the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. As she was the mother of the Son of God, she is now the Mother of the Church. She helps to bring us up as true children of God, she waits with us in our sufferings and shares with us the joy of the Holy Spirit.
We have invited her to tell the story of her life in those passages of Sacred Scripture which are about her.
Like all the saints, Mary is alive in the Lord’s love. Because she is the Mother of the Church she plays a special part in our life and we feel drawn to her in friendship and covenant. She prays with us, and we pray with her.
If you want to read her life as a meditation you may enjoy a musical accompanimet
According to Mary...
I am your companion.
Walk with me, for if you follow Jesus I will be walking with you. We are on the same Way, we look to the same Truth, we have the same Life that He has given us in the Spirit.
Let me tell you about myself in words that you know:
In the sixth month of Elizabeth's pregnancy, the angel Gabriel was sent to me from God. I was living in a city of Galilee named Nazareth. I was a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and my name was Mary. The angel came to me and said, "Hail, full of Grace, the Lord is with you!" I was greatly troubled by this greeting and wondered at its meaning. But the angel said to me, "Mary, do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God. You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.
The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever, and his kingdom will have no end." I said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. The child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, your cousin Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and she who was called barren, is now in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible to God." So I said, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done unto me according to your word." Then the angel departed.
I am the parchment of the Covenant
On my truth you have believed
that the Word was made flesh,
not of the will of the flesh
but of God.
You wanted to know about me.
Well, now you know that my name was Mary
and I lived in Nazareth.
You know that I was not surprised to see an angel;
only stunned by what he said.
You have heard the words often:
The Lord is with you.
You take them for granted.
You don't stop and look when you hear them
and see, truly,
that Heaven is open before you
and that God looks on you in love,
as he looked on me.
You know that I pondered on all this before I answered
and that I was afraid.
You know that I was, and am a virgin.
I am myself.
I am a free person,
belonging freely to God,
yet willing to love and to share my life with others.
For I have told you already
that I am engaged to a man named Joseph.
I am willing to follow the way that the Lord shows me.
I am willing to say yes, in trust.
I say yes to the Holy Spirit
who overshadows me like the cloud
that rests over the tabernacle in the desert.
I am becoming the mercy seat
on which the Lord rests.
I am the Lord's slave girl.
And it is done to me according to his Word.
Then I went in haste to a city of Judah in the hill country, to Zechariah's house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard my greeting, the baby in her womb leaped for joy. She was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed loudly, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! Why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should visit me? When the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed is she who believed that what God had said of her would be fulfilled."
I move fast and I look for ways to help and confirm my fellow pilgrims on the way, because I carry the Lord the Most High, I bring the Holy Spirit with me to those whom I visit. I am only a slave girl, yet because I carry all joy, others leap with joy when I greet them. Come with me and share the Lord's first beatitude: "Blessed are you who have believed."
And I said, "My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, for he has looked upon his handmaiden in her lowliness. Henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for the almighty has worked marvels for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age on those who fear him. He has put forth his arm and shown his strength, he has scattered the proud hearted, he has cast the mighty from their thrones, and exalted the lowly; he has filled the starving with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has protected his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and his descendants for ever.
This is my prayer:
I adore the Lord.
I share with you what I have seen and experienced.
I begin to tell you the God-news,
the message that he, himself, comes to give you.
Jesus is promise made full.
Jesus is mercy - accept him.
Jesus is holy strength - give him your weakness.
Jesus is the just peace giver - obey him.
Jesus feeds us - receive him.
Jesus says what he means.
Everything is in his hands.
I stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then returned to my own home.
I am a friend;
a friend who loves you.
I am not outside or beyond your world.
I can be with you as I was with Elizabeth when she carried her child.
I can hold and care for the new life within you
and help you to bring it to birth -
if you would like me as a guest.
Joseph, being a descendant of David, went from the Galilean city of Nazareth up to Bethlehem in Judea, the city of David, for the census. I, his betrothed, went with him, and I was with child. While we were there, the time came for me to give birth. I gave birth to my firstborn son. I wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room in the inn.
I am the God-bearer.
Look, I have held God within me
just as, now, he holds me within him.
God is strong and mighty,
holy is his name.
But he let me experience his vulnerable littleness.
God who created us,
cares that much.
Friends must have some ground for equality.
We couldn't get up to him,
so he got down to us.
Worship Him with me.
Sing: Glory to God who is Highest
and peace to his people on earth.
And then run.
Run like the shepherds
to be near Him.
They left in haste, and found Joseph and me, and the baby lying in the manger. And on seeing this they told everyone whom they met what the angels had said about the child. All who heard, wondered at the news. I kept all these things to myself holding them dear and pondered them in my heart.
This is what God gave me: the creative power to hold things in my heart. Join me. Let the Lord give you this gift.
When the time came for our purification, as laid down by the Law of Moses, we brought Jesus up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord and to offer in sacrifice a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. Now in Jerusalem there was a man named Simeon. He was upright and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit rested upon him. The Holy Spirit had revealed to him that he would not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord. Prompted by the Spirit he entered the Temple; and when Joseph and I brought in the child Jesus to carry out what the custom of the Law of Moses required, he took him into his arms and blessed God; and he said:
"Now, Lord, you can let your servant go in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the presence of all nations, a light to enlighten the Gentiles and for the glory of your people Israel."
Joseph and I marvelled at these words; and when Simeon blessed us, he said to me, "This child is destined for the fall and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that is to be rejected; and a sword will pierce through your own soul, too, that the secret thoughts of many hearts may be revealed."
Luke 2. 22-35
I am part of the sign of contradiction.
Because a sword pierced my own soul,
I can share the sword in yours.
If you would like me to.
When we had performed everything the Law of the Lord required, we returned to Galilee, to our own city of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong and filled with wisdom; and God's favour was upon him.
I let God grow.
I let His presence in the world increase.
This is how we can be together in Jesus.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the reign of King Herod, three Magi from the east came to Jerusalem. "Where is the new-born king of the Jews?" they asked. "We saw his star as it rose and have come to worship him." When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and all of Jerusalem with him. He assembled together all the chief priests and scribes of the people and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. "At Bethlehem in Judea," they told him. He sent the Magi to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and seek out the child, and when you have found him bring me word, so that I too may come and pay him homage." Having heard the king, they set out. Ahead of them went the star that they had seen rising in the east. It came to rest over the place where my child was.
My power to give
is the reflection of my power to receive.
The Lord who is mighty,
does great things for me:
He gives me everything I have;
everything to give.
On entering the house, the wise men saw the child with me, his mother, and they knelt down and worshipped him. And opening their treasures they offered him gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh.
gold for the Lord's royal kingship over the earth,
incense for his Divine worship,
and myrrh for his mortality.
But I am one of you,
made in the image and likeness of my Son.
And to us -
to you and me, also,
gold is offered because we are a royal people -
you are a queen, you are a prince of the kingdom of God,
and the sovereignty of choice is given to you as to me.
In you dwells the Divine presence
and when our priests incense the altar on which the gifts are placed
they also incense my icon,
and they incense you, the worshippers.
And when our mortal life ends,
death, for us, is the sacred gateway to life;
And even our bodies are sacred
because he has touched them.
Then Joseph arose and took the child and I; and by night, we fled to Egypt.
My son showed us the patterns of his life by the words of his prophets, and in the deeds of his people, Israel. I lived my life as you will live yours, in a reflection of his life. We are strangers and pilgrims in this life and we have here no abiding city. The kingdom is our true homeland - we are a travelling people, journeying by time and space, into a deepening encounter with love. We made our home in a town called Nazareth, to fulfill the words of the prophets, who said, He shall be called a Nazarene. Time is our journey. I am a traveler through time, a pilgrim through the circling planets; drawing nearer to the Lord, by my side, to the Lord in my heart, to the Lord in heaven, Son and Spirit and Father. Did anyone ever tell you that we went down to "the Nazareth of everyday life?" Don't believe it. There is nothing 'everyday' about God's love: it is new every morning.
Every year we went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. And when Jesus was twelve years old we went up, as was the custom. When the feast was over he stayed behind in Jerusalem. We did not know this and assuming him to be with the company we went a day's journey before we sought him amongst our kinsfolk and acquaintances. We failed to find him and so we returned to Jerusalem, looking for him. Three days later we found him in the Temple, sitting amongst the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his replies. When we beheld him we were astonished.
I said to him, "Son, why have you done this? Your father and I were seeking you anxiously." He replied, "Why were you seeking me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But we did not understand what he meant. He then went down with us to Nazareth and was obedient to us. And I pondered all these things in my heart.
Luke 2 41-51
My heart is full of treasures.
Fill your heart with the treasures
of my son's presence in your life,
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee and I was there. Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was finished I said to him; "They have no wine." Jesus said: "Woman, why do you ask me? My hour has not yet come." So I said to the servants: "Do whatever he tells you." Six stone jars were standing ready for the Jewish rites of purification; each could hold twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them: "Fill the jars with water." So they filled them to the brim. He said: "Draw some out now and take it to the steward of the feast. They did this. The steward tasted the water which had turned into wine. He did not know where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. The steward called the bridegroom and said to him, "Everyone serves the best wine first and keeps the poor wine until the guests have drunk freely, but you have kept the best wine until now.
My life is good wine.
I am the Bride in the Kingdom
and you are with me;
the men and women make the Church, in my Son.
While he was speaking to the crowds his kinsfolk and I were standing outside asking to speak to him. But to the person who told him, Jesus answered, "Who is my mother, and who are (truly) my brethren? And pointing to his disciples he said, "Here are my mother and my brethren. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother."
If you ever imagined that this was some sort of insult to me, his mother, think again; for it is my greatest glory. I was uniquely, in truth his mother because I did the will of his Father in heaven.
I and my kinswoman Mary, the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene, stood by the cross of Jesus. When Jesus saw me with the disciple he loved standing by me, he said to me, "Woman, behold your Son. And to the disciple he said: "Behold your mother."
St. John 19. 25-26
All love is precious to me
for love is the Spirit of my Son.
But it was not that I should be cared for
that you were offered to me under the cross.
No. It was so that I could, if you wish,
I am here for you as a mother.
I am here as kindness and strength.
I am here under your cross.
And I will love you,
if you will accept my love,
because I see my Son in you.
We women who had come with him from Galilee followed and we saw the tomb and how his body was laid. Then we returned and prepared spices and ointments.
My Son was conceived
by the will of the Father
and the working of the Holy Spirit.
I know this.
It happened to me.
And by the will of the Father
and the working of the Holy Spirit,
he was raised from the dead
that we might have life.
We are the living people
- do not look for us among the dead.
We had all come together and we asked Jesus, "Lord, is it time? Will you now restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times and seasons which the Father has decided by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the earth." And when he had finished speaking, whilst we were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of our sight. We were still gazing into heaven when suddenly, two men in white robes were standing by us who said, "People of Galilee, why are you standing looking up into heaven? Jesus, who was taken up from you to heaven, will return in the same way that you saw him go?" Then we returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet and went into the upper room where we were staying. There were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James, several of the women, the brethren of Jesus and myself, his mother. We all devoted ourselves to continuous prayer.
I am the woman of prayer.
Come O Holy Spirit.
Fill the hearts of your faithful
and kindle the fire of your love.
I was the first to receive the Spirit:
the cloud overshadowed me.
I am the praying woman.
Invite me to pray with you.
I am the Virgin made Church,
On Calvary, and in the upper room;
on earth and in Heaven.
A sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
I am the Church, your Mother,
on earth and in Heaven.
Though I glory in the greatness of God
I still care for the little things.
Heaven has her great liturgy;
it is the story of the Church's life and her glory.
She was with child and in labour, and cried out in the pangs of birth. And then another sign appeared in heaven; a great red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems upon his heads. Its tail swept down a third of the stars from the heavens and dropped them to the earth. And the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was about to give birth, in order to devour her child whilst it was being born. The woman gave birth to a male child,who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and her child was taken up to God and his throne. She fled into the wilderness to a place prepared by God, where she was to be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. And now war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels fighting against the dragon. The dragon with his angels fought back and they were defeated and driven out of heaven. And the great dragon, the ancient serpent who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world, was hurled down to the earth, and his angels were hurled down with him. And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown to earth, he pursued the woman, the mother of the male child, but she was given two large eagle's wings with which to fly from the serpent into the wilderness to the place where she would be looked after for a time, and times, and half a time. The serpent vomited water like a river from its mouth, after the woman, to sweep her away in its flood. But the earth came to her rescue, and opened its mouth and swallowed the river which the serpent had vomited from his mouth. The dragon was enraged with the woman and went off to make war upon the rest of her offspring; on all those who obey God's commandments and bear witness to Jesus.
Rev. 12.2-9; 13-17
I am pregnant with the life of the Church which I received under the Cross. It is you, now, whom I bring to birth. It is with you, in the wilderness, that I live. I belong to you. God placed in me a defence against evil. For if you keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus, you are all my children.
Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no longer there. And I saw the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, as beautiful as a bride prepared to meet her husband. Then I heard a great voice from the throne say, "Amongst mankind is the dwelling place of God. His home will be with them and they shall be his people. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes and death will be no more. There shall be no more mourning nor crying nor pain, for the former things have passed away." And the one who sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And he said, "Write this, for my words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To anyone who is thirsty I will give water without charge, from the fountain of life.
I am the Bride of Heaven
and will you be with me?
We can be part of each other in Jesus,
for all eternity.
We can share in each other's love.
Through my city
flows the river of life,
We are born anew in heaven,
born to eternal life
in the waters of the womb of glory;
heiresses and queens,
princes and heirs
of the kingdom of Heaven.
I have gone ahead of you -
my Son has prepared a place.
I am that place.
We are that place together
in the glory of the Father's love.
The Spirit and the Bride say: "Come." And let everyone who hears say: "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty say: "Come ." Let anyone who wishes drink the waters of life - as a gift. Amen
Pictures courtesy of Blessed Fra Angelico OP (1400-1455)