Motherhood is a beautiful mystery which reflects the nurturing love of God.
Mothers assist God in creating new life by offering their bodies in love to their child. Even before they can look at their child’s face or hold them in their arms, women nurture a profound bound with the new life growing within them. This bond is so deep and personal that even when the baby is miscarried, the mother grieves for the lost life as surely as if he or she had already been born. Because only a mother can understand this connection, many times women who have lost their babies have to mourn alone. No one else besides other mothers can begin to fathom the depth of loss a woman feels in these situations.
Once the child is born, the self-sacrificing love of the mother continues. In the early years of life, the mother continues to give her body to her child providing nourishment through nursing. The whole pattern of her life is thrown into disarray as she wakes up at all hours of the night to feed her baby, sits up with her baby all night when he or she is sick and spends the day making sure that all her child’s needs are met. When the child is able to walk, the mother is never far away making sure that he or she does not fall down the stairs or get burned at the stove. No matter how attentive a father may be, it is always the mother the child runs to for comfort when he or she is hurt or for food when he or she is hungry. A mother always knows where everything in the house is and what to do to make any circumstance better.
This mystery of motherhood is a beautiful gift to us. It is a reflection of the love of God who brings us into being, who nurtures us and who provides for all our needs. Like a mother, God never forgets us, always has us in mind and is the first one we should run to whenever we get ourselves in trouble. God never tires of offering His love to us and is always glad to hear from us. Like a mother, there is nothing that God will refuse us if we only ask Him.
This gift of motherhood is something which all of us can understand. Many of us here today are mothers and know it firsthand. However, all of us without exception have had mothers. All of us came into the world through a woman who carried us within her through the first months of our lives. Our mothers were the first to teach us about love, trust and the dignity of our lives. Even if our mothers were not perfect, even if they were not in our lives because of death, divorce or addiction, we can be assured that they loved us in the best way they could and that no one else could ever take their place.
Just as each one of us needed a mother to bring us into this world, so Jesus, the Son of God, needed Mary. Mary offered her body to God so that Jesus could be conceived within her and brought into this world to save us. She is the one who is called “full of grace” because God Himself came to life within her. We give her the awesome title, “Mother of God”, because the child growing within her is the Son of God.
As a baby, Jesus depended on Mary for everything. Like us, He came into the world as a helpless child. In her love, she wrapped Him in swaddling clothing to keep Him warm, fed Him when He was hungry and comforted Him when He was hurting. She rocked Him to sleep when the sun went down and checked in on Him in the middle of the night. Even as He grew into manhood, she was never far from His side. It was at her request that He performed His first miracle at the wedding feast in Cana. As He was condemned to death, dragged through the stone streets of Jerusalem and nailed to a cross, she was by His side all the way. No one besides Jesus Himself has ever suffered more. Yet she trusted in God’s promise to raise Him up on Easter day.
Mary never stopped being a mother to Jesus. As His mother in heaven, she brings our prayers to Him. We can be assured that as a good son, Jesus never refuses His mother no matter what she may ask of Him. We can go to her, then, with great confidence, because she is also our mother. Saint Paul assures us in the second reading that, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are the adopted sons and daughters of God. This adoption puts us in line to receive an inheritance which is nothing less than all the spiritual blessings in the heavens. One of these spiritual blessings is to have Mary as our mother in faith. Like a good mother, we can be sure that she hears us whenever we call out to her and that she will bring to her Son whatever needs we may have.
And so we begin this new year celebrating Mary’s motherhood as a reflection of God’s own love and as a promise of her maternal intercession. On this World Day of Peace, we remember in a particular way all the nations which are torn by violence, where families must leave their homes to find safety in foreign lands and where it has become impossible to make a living. We bring these lands and peoples to Mary and beg her as the Queen of Peace to ask her Son to bring an end to war, to greed and to hate. We entrust all the world’s injustice and suffering into her motherly care and wait with confidence for Jesus, the Prince of Peace, to answer.