FREE Catholic Classes
Christ on the Cross with Mary as Intercessor and a Donor - Unknown Flemish Master - 1420-30
By Deacon Keith Fournier
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, "Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you." He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother" (The Gospel of St. Matthew 12:48-50). This biblical passage is sometimes misinterpreted by some Christian whose communities grew out of the Protestant reformation. Some argue that it stands for the proposition that Jesus was making a comment intended to lessen the importance of his earthly mother. This "mother is unimportant" interpretation is textually inaccurate and theologically mistaken. It ascribes a minimalist role to Mary in the Christian revelation and consequently in the life of every Christian.
It can also cause one to miss a profound truth concerning the Christian vocation and the mission of the Church. The Christian Tradition rooted in the Patristic literature (writings of the early Church fathers), offers the opposite interpretation. The passage reveals a framework for an authentically human and relational spirituality, a spirituality of communion and relationship which finds its true expression within the Church, a communion of love. Through our Baptism, we are all invited into the very "family" of God. When we choose to be obedient to the will of God we enter into an eternal relationship with God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit; becoming "mother," "sister," and "brother" to the Lord. This interchange was recorded for all time for a purpose. Through it Jesus has invited us into an intimate and eternal communion. Mary is a woman on a mission, to bring the world to her Son, the Savior, Jesus Christ, by bringing them into the family.
"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, 'Woman, behold, your son.' Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his home" (John 19:26-27).
In His final act of Self-giving love revealed on Golgotha's Hill, Jesus explained the importance of His mother. From antiquity the Fathers of the Church have taught that this encounter was about more than the relationship between the Apostle John and Mary. It is about the expanded family of the Church, the community that Jesus came to found and of which He is the Head. Jesus was not minimizing His relationship with His mother, He was expanding it. He intends to include all men and women in the "family circle" of God. That is the mission of Mary, she is the first Evangelizer, committed to bringing every man, woman and child into the family by bringing the whole world to His Body, the Church, of which she is a sign. All who are incorporated into the Body of Christ through Baptism can experience the intimacy of the very inner life of the Trinity. Jesus' Father becomes our Father. He underscores this truth right before He ascended when He tells the disciples "I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (John 20:17).
More Mary, Mother of God
Appearances of Mary
The term "appearance" has been used with Marian apparitions and visions of Jesus Christ. The Church will confirm an apparition as worthy of belief, but belief is never required by divine faith. Read More
Mary as Mother
From antiquity, Mary has been called "Theotokos", or "God-Bearer". The word in Greek is "Theotokos". The term was used as part of the popular piety of the early first millennium church. Read More
Mary was there at the Incarnation, Birth, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of God Incarnate. She was there throughout the often called "hidden years" in Nazareth. In the life of the Redeemer... Read More
Since the Virgin Mary's role in the mystery of Christ and the Spirit has been treated, it is fitting now to consider her place in the mystery of the Church. She is acknowledged as... Read More
Mary as Model
Christian Scripture calls the "more excellent way", the way of Love. Mary understands this Way and walked on it with extraordinary humility. Follow her in journey through the Scriptures. Read More
A Bishop named Nestorius objected to the title of Theotokos, Mother of God or God Bearer for Mary. The Council of Ephesus met in 431AD and affirmed Mary was the "Mother of God"... Read More
Devotion to - and love for . Mary, the Mother of God, is a foundational part of the Christian Church both East and West. The Eastern Christian emphasis, both doctrinally and devotionally, is... Read More
Mary as Disciple
Way of Mary
And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her. (The Gospel of Luke 2:34-37) Read More
Mary's Prayer teaches us to stay afloat in the ocean of life, with all of its undertows. Mary's way is to become an ark within, where the same God who became incarnate within her... Read More
Mission of Mary
In a beautiful apostolic exhortation entitled the Sacrament of Love, issued in 1997, Pope Benedict XVI wrote these words under a section entitled The Eucharist and the Virgin Mary... Read More
Before they were called Christians (Acts 11:26), at Antioch, they were referred to as "the Way". A Rabbi named Saul spoke of persecuting "the way" (Acts 22:4) before he was profoundly converted... Read More
"Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother... When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, Woman, behold, your son." Read More
Message of Mary
Devotion of Mary
When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, "Father, forgive them... Read More
But at daybreak on the first day of the week they took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb; but when they entered... Read More
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2020 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.