At the incarnation of Christ, (the Annunciation) Luke 1 vs 29, the evangelist introduces Mary as one who ponders. “She was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this may be.” After the birth of Jesus and at the visit of the shepherds who informed Mary and Joseph of what they had been told, Luke again, 2 vs 19, informs us that Mary “treasured these words and pondered them in her heart.” Luke again, 2 vs 51, reminds us of the contemplative posture of Mary, when after locating the child Jesus lost in the temple but hard at work teaching, Jesus’ mother “treasured all these things in her heart.”
We note other opportunities to get insights into this amazing woman. We hear how a pregnant Mary, leaving self behind as contemplatives are hoping to be able to do, has concern only for her cousin, Elizabeth. We know the story. She set out on a difficult journey that presented many risks and visited her cousin. The gospel indicates the depth of her spirituality when Mary delivers what we now refer to as the Magnificat. This is a song of praise of the goodness and greatness of God.
This marks Mary as a contemplative of the highest order. She is one who lives in a high state of consciousness. The ideal contemplative is one who lives in a constant state of praise and thanks whilst still present in the moment. This is Mary. This part of the gospel glibly states, “Mary remained with her about three months and then returned home.” I say, glibly, as Mary is now more heavily pregnant and the journey home is no less arduous. I cannot emphasize enough the aspect of ‘leaving self behind’ portrayed here.
Mary’s sensitivity to and empathy for the hosts at the marriage feast at Cana underline her natural high state of spirituality. Maybe Mary, in responding to what she observes and discerns, is the first to say, and not for the first time, “Not my will, but your will be done.” In mothering her Divine and fully human son, did she instill this mode of thinking and acting in him who would one day, in his agony in the garden as his passion and death was imminent, remember his mother’s lessons about, “Only the Father’s will. Only the Father’s will. Only the Father’s will. ………”?
It is fair to ask, “Why was Mary chosen as the Mother of God?”
I believe it is very clear from Mary’s obvious easy humility and actions, that she was a woman who was completely emptied of attachments to anything that was not ‘of God’. Mary had overcome her egoic self. She was the most spiritually detached person in history. As a result, Mary was the perfect receptacle in which Christ could become incarnate.
We – males and females – are called to be Mothers of God.
How? John’s gospel is very clear. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1 vs 1). In the same chapter and vs 14 John boldly announces, “The Word became flesh and lived among us.” Mary was the mother who physically brought forth the Word (Christ) as real flesh and blood and nurtured that child and brought him to maturity.
Our challenge, too, is to continually bring forth Christness (the Word). We can do this, for example, by living a life that is a continued response in loving and discerning obedience to the will of the Father. To do so is being, in an ongoing way, a mother of God. This, almost certainly, makes seriously embracing the contemplative path something that is essential.
Hail, Mary, Mother of God and my Mother of Faith, you, the woman who was so emptied that God chose you as the perfect receptacle in which to incarnate Christ, please guide my spiritual life in such a way that I progressively imitate you in becoming more and more emptied.