“Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing. But a woman who reveres the Lord will be praised.” The book of Proverbs is so perceptive. The beauty of a woman is on the inside. The strength of a woman lies in her motherhood.
“Suppose your mother baked a pie and there were seven of you – your parents and five children. What part of the pie would you get?” a teacher asked a boy. The unexpected answer was forthright. “A sixth,” replied the boy. The teacher immediately replied, “I’m afraid you don’t know your fractions. Remember, there are seven of you.” “Yes, teacher,” said the boy, “but you don’t know my mother. Mother would say she didn’t want any pie.”
Mothers are special. Our Mother in heaven, Mariam of Nazareth, is super-special. What is her forte? Paradoxically her strong point lies in her defenselessness. Instead of building her own life, she let herself be shaped by God. She let herself be molded in the hands of the Master.
Surrendering ourselves is always a daunting task. We fight, we resist. We always believe our way is better. Even yielding to those whom we love can be difficult at times. And yet it is the only way to being significant in life.
“If I had to convey it in images I would speak of the way in which a child is taught to write”, comments the Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh. “A pencil is put into his hand, the mother takes the hand in hers, and then begins to move it; and as long as the child does not know, and cannot foresee, what is expected of him, the lines are so perfect, the straights are straight, the curves are curved. The moment the child begins to imagine he understands what is expected of him, becomes helpful, pushes, pulls, and turns, it becomes a scribble.
Isn’t that exactly what happens to us when instead of listening deeply, silently, listening intently in the stillness of our heart and ready to wait on God, we make haste to understand what he wants, and try to do it before we have understood?”
Metropolitan Anthony also gives the analogy of a sail on a ship. “The sail is the frailest part of it and yet, directed in the right way, it can engulf the wind and carry the heavy, strong, resisting structure to its haven. This is the kind of weakness, of frailty, of surrender, that we can see in the generous gift of the Mother of God to her Lord.”
The archangel told the Virgin that she will bear a child. Mary knew that this promise was also a threat. According to Deuteronomy, an unmarried girl who bore a child was condemned to stoning. And yet she did not say, “But this cannot be, it will cost me my life”. She said, “Here am I, the handmaid of the Lord. Be it unto me according to his will”. And his will was, humanly speaking, her death, unless a miracle occurred.
The miracle occurred. Joseph believed in her. The baby was born and Mary was not stoned. God made it again!
We must learn something from this. If we want to be of the race of the Mother of God, there is no other way but surrender and reliance. When asked by the Rabbi “where God is?”, everyone thought of the obvious answer ‘everywhere’. The Rabbi however surprised all when he said, “God is where you let him in.” God can only enter your heart as long as you open the doors and leave them open.
“Doorkeepers usually keep doors shut: our vocation is to keep a door open for God who knocks at every entrance to find a door open” comments Metropolitan Anthony. “In moments of strife or moments of tension, when we have no words and do not know what to do, we can sit still, turn to the Lord and say, ‘Lord, I believe. Come, and give us thy peace’; and continue praying in the midst of the storm, in the midst of the strife, in the midst of the terror. Pray that the Lord, who is the Lord of the storm, as he is the Lord of peace, may come and spread his peace as he did on the lake of Tiberias when he commanded the waves to be still and the wind to be silent. This is our vocation.”
This open door policy will keep alight hope in our lives. To Mary, God always made sense. This is what Mary can teach us.
Thomas A. Edison invented the incandescent light bulb and developed the phonograph or record player and the ‘kinetoscope’, a small box for viewing moving films. When he was a young lad, his teacher sent him home with a note which said, “Your child is dumb. We can’t do anything for him.” Mrs. Edison wrote back, “You do not understand my boy. I will teach him myself”. And she did, with results that are well known.
Mary, our mother, can do the same… and more! She can teach us how to let God mold us into a work of art. And thus be a sign of hope for the many who have no hope.
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.