What can we learn from St. Mary the Mother of Jesus that can apply to us today? Is she relevant to us today? Does she have anything to say to us now that will help us today? Recently I have been studying about Mary and trying to understand, venerate and honor her properly. The following is a study I believe God gave me on the subject.
1. ACCEPTANCE OF THE WILL OF GOD FOR HER
"Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word". (St. Luke 1:38 New American Bible St. Joseph Edition)
The angel Gabriel appears to Mary to tell her she would become pregnant with the Son of God. Her response, as shown above, is, I am a servant of the Lord. Â Let Him do with me as He sees fit. What do we do when God tells us something? Try to argue with God, make a deal with Him, complain, whine or can we simply say as does Mary, "be it done according to your word". Can we say as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane "â€¦Not my will but Yours be done?" (St. Luke 22:42 NAB). Â I believe Mary shows us how to begin our walk of faith by total surrender to the will of God.
2. SHE SEEKS GODLY COUNSEL
After the angel Gabriel leaves Mary went to see Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist. She didn't seek the counsel of all her friends, family, neighbors - gotten 20 different opinions, been totally confused, and been possibly talked out of the blessing of God for her. She went to godly people who confirmed what the angel had spoken to her, resulting in what we call the Magnificat today. (The story can be found in St. Luke 1:39-56)
What do we do when we don't understand something? Whine about it, go ask all of our friends and get 50 different answers and have no better clue what to do than we had before? Do we ask God? What if He seems to be turning a deaf ear to us? Can we go to the priest or other Godly counselors for answers?
"For lack of guidance a people falls; security lies in many counselors." (Proverbs 11:14)
The more alone we are in a decision, the more likely we are to fall and be deceived. Vice versa, the more godly counsel we have, the better chance we have to hear the voice of God, and if we obey, doing it, then receiving the blessing He has for us. Again Mary patterns the way for us.
3. MARY KEPT THINGS IN HER HEART
"He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and His mother kept all these things in her heart." (St. Luke 2:51)
When Mary didn't understand something she didn't simply reject it or throw it away, but she kept it in her heart. She thought about it, pondered it, prayed, and kept on believing. What do we do when we don't understand? Â Can we leave it in our heart, believing God will take care of it and reveal the answer in His time? Do we have to have the answer now or can we be like Mary and patiently wait for God's answer?
4. SHE TEACHES US OBEDIENCE TO HER SON
"His mother said to the servers, 'Do whatever He tells you." (St. John 2:5)
Jesus, his disciples and mother were at a wedding. In the middle of the wedding feast they run out of wine, which could have been a real embarrassment to the newlyweds. When Mary approaches Jesus to get Him to perform a miracle He initially refuses. However, rather than give up, she simply turns to the servants and tells them to do whatever He tells you to do. Surprisingly they do it without argument, and water is turned into wine. A miracle takes place because Mary told the servants to obey. What about us? Would we have quit, perhaps pouted because Jesus didn't do what we wanted Him to? If we had been Mary, might we have chased after Jesus and said something like "I'm your mother, you have to listen to me and do what I say"? What if Jesus called us a dog like He did the Canaanite woman? (See St. Matthew 15:21-28) Â Would we despair and say "He called me a dog. How dare He! See if I ever talk to Him again" and miss the blessing? Can we learn from Mary just to obey, whether we understand or not, and let God use us to be an instrument for a miracle for someone?
5. MARY TEACHES HOW TO TRUST AND STAND IN THE MIDST OF TRIAL
See Mary at the crucifixion, seeing her son stripped naked before all the world, marred beyond recognition, beaten to a pulp, knowing He is totally innocent and has been railroaded to death. Her heart is broken in a trillion pieces over what she cannot possibly understand and what seems like the end of everything. However, she doesn't curse, she doesn't deny God, she doesn't question God. Also she doesn't go on a poor me trip, why are you doing this to me God, why aren't you keeping your word to me, why is this happening to my son? If this is how you treat your son, forget it. Â I don't want anything to do with You anymore. Instead we see her standing there silently, not falling apart, but like a rock that won't be moved. (See St. John 19:25-27)
What an example for us to follow. When the trials come our way and we think we can't go on, everything in us cries out to give up, we can be like Mary, find that inner strength from the Lord, and keep on standing tall.
6. MARY BY HER EXAMPLE SHOWS US OF OUR NEED TO BE FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT
In Acts the first chapter Mary is listed as being one of the 120 in the Upper Room praying until the Holy Spirit fell at Pentecost. Even though she was the "Mother of God", had borne the Savior of the world, had experienced the miracle of the Virgin Birth of Christ in her body, been blessed more than any woman on earth either before or since, yet she needed to be filled with the Holy Spirit. If she, how much more, us? Mary reminds us that no matter how good we are, how holy we may be, how close to God we may think we are, we still need to be filled with the Holy Spirit, being guided and led by Him.
The Apostle Paul writes
"â€¦But be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your heartsâ€¦" (Ephesians 5:18-19)
The word used for fill meansÂ continuously being refilled. In other words it is not just a one-time deal, but an ongoing thing that needs to be happening in us all the time. We need the infilling of the Spirit every moment of every day.
7. MARY REMINDS US TO PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
In the Roman Catholic Church they teach that Mary is interceding for us along with the other saints. They pray
" Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with thee blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Amen".
In Revelation 5:8 and Revelation 8:3 the Bible speaks of incense being offered before the throne, which is the prayer of the saints. It is my personal belief that the saints who have preceded us to heaven are not floating around somewhere on a cloud plucking a harp. Instead, they are actively presenting our prayers to God, as well as praying for us. Since Mary is a saint she would be involved in this ministry also.
In James 5:16 we are told to pray for each other to be healed. I believe that refers to all areas of our lives that we prosper, in health, goods and in everything until we are overflowing and have enough to pass around to others. So again, Mary, by her praying for us, shows us we need to pray for each other.
In conclusion I believe Mary is the perfect example of how to live our Christian life victoriously. By her life we see the pattern set before us, and see that if she could go through what she went through and come on through successfully, so can we. Let's follow that glorious example.