Children find it easy to trust their parents. Because they depend on their mothers and fathers for everything from the home they live in to the food they eat, they can even take for granted that all their needs will be provided for. Relying on their parents for everything, they are free to play and learn without the constant worry of finding food or paying bills. Children happily surrender control of their lives over to their parents because they trust that they will provide for them without fail.
As we grow older, however, we begin to take more responsibility for our lives. Before long, our parents start to expect us to fend for ourselves. Increasingly, we become responsible for paying for our own food, clothing and place to live. As we mature, we take more control over ourselves and have more freedom to make decisions about what we will eat and how we will spend our free time.
This new freedom and responsibility sometimes gives us the illusion that we are in control. However, it does not take long for us to discover how little control over our lives we really have. All it takes is for us to lose a job or be struck with an illness to see just how precarious our lives really are. Our world can be rocked by the sudden death of a loved one or by being victims of crime. All we have worked for can come crashing down around us dashing our hopes for the future.
It is in those moments when all seems lost and we discover just how little control we have that we are invited to have the trust of a child again. However, we no longer place that trust in our parents. Rather we learn to depend on our Heavenly Father. When our world comes crashing down around us, we discover that, all along, God has been in control. Just as we trusted our parents to provide for us when we were children, so we can trust our Heavenly Father to take care of us throughout our lives. This does not mean that we stop working or striving for a better life. Rather, it means that we do so with peace and confidence knowing that our Heavenly Father is supporting us all the way.
We do not only have a Heavenly Father whom we can turn to in our time of need. We also have a mother in Heaven - Mary, the Mother of God - whose feast we celebrate today. The Church today invites us to begin the year by entrusting ourselves to her maternal care. While it is God who provides for all of our needs, we can turn to Mary to bring those needs to our Heavenly Father for us. Just as our mothers here on earth often spoke to our fathers to urge them to be lenient with us or spoke to our teachers on our behalf, so Mary frequently asks her Son, Jesus, to show mercy and to shower His grace upon us daily.
Throughout the centuries, the saints have taught us how important it is for us to have a devotion to Mary as our mother.
Saint Josemaria Escriba wrote: “When we were little, we kept close to our mother in a dark alley or if dogs barked at us. Now...we should run to the side of our Mother in Heaven… She will defend us and lead us to the light.”
Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta told her sisters: “If you ever feel distressed during your day, call upon our Lady. Just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit, this prayer has never failed me.”
Many holy women and men have taught us through the ages that it is quite impossible to honor God our Father or Jesus, His Son without honoring Mary our Mother.
Saint Ildephonsus said: “No one will ever be the servant of the Son without serving the Mother.” And Saint Louis de Montfort put it even more strongly: “All true children of God have God for their Father and Mary for their Mother. Anyone who does not have Mary as his Mother does not have God for his Father.”
Why should we entrust our cares and our very selves to Mary? Because God did. By calling her to be the mother of His only Son, God entrusted to her what was most precious to Him. It was Mary who protected, nourished and cared for the infant Jesus when He was most vulnerable. And she continued to care for Him throughout His life up to His death on the cross. In fact, it was on the cross that Jesus revealed to us that Mary would serve not only as His mother but as the mother of all those who believe in Him when He turned to Saint John and said, “Behold your mother.” Just as Jesus entrusted Himself to Mary’s care and entrusted His beloved disciple to her, we should also entrust ourselves to her motherly protection.
It is a great comfort to know that, whatever difficulty we are facing, we are not alone. There is someone who will love and support us no matter what we have done. Certainly, we can turn to God and entrust ourselves to Him with total confidence. However, in His generosity, He has also provided us with a mother we can turn to. She will never fail to intercede for us and lead us safely to her Son. As weak people who so often fear those things which are out of our control, we need all the help we can get. If God is offering us help through the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, we should not turn it down.
In today’s second reading, Saint Paul assures us that we are sons and daughters of God. If so, we have God as our Father and Christ Jesus as our brother. It follows that Mary is our Mother. Nurturing a love for her and depending on her in every trial will only bring us closer to God our Father and Christ Jesus our brother. Let us begin this year asking her to teach us to have a childlike trust in her so that we can face the challenges of this year with confidence and serenity.