One Of Us
There are some movies that remain etched
in your mind and heart until you die. For
me the 1955 black and white production Marcelino
Pan y Vino is one such movie. It is the heart-warming
story of an orphan boy, left on the doorstep
of a monastery. Unable to find a family they
feel would love the boy, the friars bring
him up themselves. It is poignant to see
Marcellino discovering Jesus Christ in a
sensitive, miraculous, and very moving way.
Marcellino loves his 12 fathers, however
he yearns for a mother and focuses his search
on Jesus' mother.
Like Marcellino, we all need a mother in
our life. Even Jesus needed a mother and
God chose Mary, a humble Jewish girl, to
be His. In doing so, He made her our mother
as well. What is beautiful about Mary, the
one we call Theotokos, birth-giver of God,
is that she is actually one of us.
Though freed from original sin from conception,
Mary had to go through this struggle of life,
just like every other human being.
The Gospels portray her as someone who traveled
a road that was often hard and shrouded in
obscurity. Like all of us. The 'sword of
sorrow' foretold by Simeon did not pierce
her heart only on Calvary. In Nazareth she
was probably gossiped about ruthlessly because
she was pregnant before being actually married
to Joseph. Because the child she carried
was fully human as well as fully God, she
must have experienced all the discomforts
of pregnancy. She had to give birth away
from home, in a stable - surely not the most
hygienic place to give birth in.
She raised her son the best she knew how
and, at one time, so scripture tells us,
was even baffled by His activities, as so
many of the parents are by their children.
She did not always understand what was happening.
Everything was so dark. Mysteries are always
just that - inexplicable. She had to ponder
the events of her life to see God's hand
in the darkness.
At times she misunderstood and had to be
challenged by her Son, as when she reproached
him for staying behind in Jerusalem, and
when she pointed out to him the lack of wine
at the Cana festivities and she had to face
his odd answer, "Woman, what concern
is that to you and to me? My hour has not
She had to separate herself from the love
of her life, Jesus, when he, an adult, set
out on his public ministry, leaving her home
alone in Nazareth. His mission required that.
Many in their family thought he has gone
crazy, the Gospels tell us. And she suffered
what parents pray they will never have to
witness, the cruel death of her son
The Orthodox Church has a really incredibly
beautiful hymn called the akathist dedicated
to Mary. There Mary is acclaimed as "much-talked-of
Wonder of angels, the Flower of incorruption,
the Door of blessed Mystery." And yet
what is perhaps most beautiful, definitely
most comforting, is that Mary is one of us.
Seeing her constancy in faith, we take courage
in our doubts and misgivings about ourselves
and God. Seeing her completely at the disposal
of God, even when she could not possibly
see the fullness of his plan for her, helps
us to trust Him because He will never let
us down. Seeing how she never turned back
or tried to find an easier path, heartens
us to be wholehearted and strong in our daily
We have our joys and our disappointments.
At times we feel very secure in God's hands,
very confident that we know what he is asking
of us. But at other times he seems very distant.
Things happen to us which don't seem to fit
the original plan and which are hard to patch
up with his enduring love for us. There are
times of hurt, darkness and anguish. We are
thrown back on faith alone. All other comforts
and support are taken away. 'Naked faith'
as the saints are wont to call it. It is
in times like these that we need someone
like Mary, who went through what we are suffering
and who knows what it is like. We need the
Woman of Faith. She gives us hope.
Remember what Saint Augustine says. "Faith
is to believe what you do not see; the reward
of this faith is to see what you believe."
With Mary as our companion, we may start
again seeing what we believe. "Men go
abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains,
at the huge waves of the sea, at the long
courses of the rivers, at the vast compass
of the ocean, at the circular motions of
the stars, and they pass by themselves without
Wonder, marvel, excitement… What happened
to the eagerness of that little girl who
rode a train with her mother? Looking out
the window, she exclaimed, "Look! A
horse!" And a moment later, "Look!
Houses!" She gave every indication of
keeping this up, so her embarrassed mother
apologized to the man next to her. "I'm
sorry my daughter is going on like this,"
she said. "She still thinks everything
Mary, the 'one-of-us' can teach us that really
everything is wonderful…
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
hereby granted for any non-commercial
provided that the content is unaltered
its original state, if this copyright