A Marian hymn goes:
Mary, Most Holy,
From your hands falling,
Are heaven’s blessings,
Hear us now calling.
Teach us to pray,
And work for God’s glory,
Ave Maria! Ave!
The intercessory role of a mother is one that a child experiences from a mother. The nature of a child’s relation with mother differs from that with the father. From mum, there is often an immediate and spontaneous effort to attend to the very basic needs of the child right from birth, irrespective of the sacrifices involved. This “connectedness” between the mother and child continues through life, assuming various forms and interventions.
In my own experience, the intercessory role of mum was very strong in the lives of my siblings and I. When we needed something, it was a matter of “say but the word”, and mum ensured it was provided. Mum did not allow us stay without anything she felt we needed. This include school items, basic personal needs, general needs and whatever she felt we needed. Somehow, we got it. This does not mean that she gave in to our every childish whims and caprices. No, mum is a disciplinarian. She would often say, “Be contented with what you have. You do not know where you will find yourself tomorrow”. And true to mum’s sayings, I did find myself in interesting places, cultures and circumstances over the years.
We began realizing mum’s intercessory role when mum stepped out of the house. This left us in direct contact with dad in terms of our basic needs. This vacuum came when we went off to boarding house and mum decided she would relocate to the village and spend her time there. With this new development, we had to deal with dad directly when we had needs. This turned out to be a new experience for my siblings and I. Now, dad became mum and dad to us and of course, the mum part was not replaceable. Dad saw to our needs as best as he could. However, the difference was that we already had this rapport with mum which also had to be developed with dad. You too would have your own story of some possible intercessory role of a woman in your life.
Intercession Vs Obedience
This intercessory role of a mother is also found in the bible. In accordance with the Bible used by Christians, Mary, is the Mother of Jesus. She herself was conceived without original sin. She was chosen as the holy and acceptable vessel to bring forth Jesus, God’s only beloved son (Luke 1:35). She got into all that because of her obedience (Luke 1:38). Mary’s intercessory role in the life of Christians and all humankind, demands that we are obedient to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Even as mum saw to our needs we also had to play our part by being obedient kids. Whenever mum called, we came running like our life depended on it. And interesting she had this way of calling two/three names at once and we all came running. Sometimes, all that was needed to be done was a simple task that just one person could do. Mum wanted to be sure that at least one of the persons called would harken to her voice immediately.
When Mary said to the disciples, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5), she was prompting the spirit of obedience and faith in the heart of the disciples. Mary knew what her son could accomplish and hence exhorted the disciples to follow as directed. When we made demands of mum, she had faith that dad had the resources which she needed to help respond to our needs. As kids we knew, through mum’s words and influence that dad had to be obeyed. Dad was the provider and so was held in high regard and esteem.
Growing into adulthood, my siblings and I related more personally with dad. The one-on-one encounter with dad was crucial and we began to understand dad’s love for us. Hence, the role of Mary as an intercessor remains. However, a personal encounter and growing love and relations with the Beloved Son of God, Jesus, remains inevitable to the Christian, follower of Christ.
Intercession that Redirects to the Father
It is important to understand that our encounter with Mother Mary directs us to her son, Jesus. Even the rosary which is looked upon as just a prayer to Mary isn’t just that. The mysteries of the rosary are biblical events that bring one’s heart and mind closer to God. In the rosary, the person praying reflects on the life of Christ, the lesson its teaches, and on the virtues. We are called to emulate Christ’s humility, obedience and other virtues in each of the biblical stories.
Experience has shown that praying the rosary is a very reflective and humbling exercise. It is a form of scriptural reflection. Through praying the rosary, you can ask for Mary’s intercession for your various needs and petitions. Mary’s intercessory role before the Father does not undermine what Jesus has done and is doing for us. Rather, mother’s role is supplementary. As we reach out directly to the Father and the Son, Mother Mary is also there reminding us of what we need to do to remain in constant tune with God’s word and commandments.
Intercession for Salvation
The history of Mother Mary’s apparitions through the centuries reveal that Mother Mary is very concerned about the conversion of sinners and the salvation of souls. Her intercession for material needs is geared towards better responding to the life of the spirit of God in us.
Mary was not a vessel that God used and dumped. She gave birth to Jesus the Incarnate Word, God made flesh. Mary continues to play a role in Christ’s salvific mission to heal, redeem and save all humankind from sin and death. After birth, mothers nurture their kids over the years through several stages and events of life, as they grow into adulthood. So too as we grow into adulthood in the spirit, Mary continues to nurture and groom us in the life of the Spirit.
“Mother is Supreme”, so we say.
Mother Mary who gave birth to Jesus is no less Supreme!
(In honour of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary)
- Linda Ellah