Behold, your mother

A young mother stood in line at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.   Holding her children’s hands, she wondered what to expect as the motorized sidewalk carried her toward the miraculous image of Mary on St. Juan Diego’s tilma.   She had never had a particular devotion to Mary, but her own mother had died years earlier, and she wondered what place Mary might have in her life now.   As she looked up at the tilma, the words Mary spoke to Juan Diego sounded clearly in her mind:   “Am I not here who am your mother?”   The words touched her heart, and she began to weep as the tenderness of Mary’s maternal love overwhelmed her.

This story shows how God has given mothers a unique ability to tend to their children’s hearts and heal their woundedness.   This is, actually, one of the things Pope Francis emphasized last year when he instituted today’s feast of Mary, Mother of the Church.   In his decree, he said he wanted to “encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church.”   In a homily on last year’s feast, Pope Francis explained that tenderness is a hallmark of Mary and of all motherhood, including the motherhood of the Church.

We know that Jesus gave Mary to John at the foot of the cross so that he could care for her.   But he also gave John—and all of us—to Mary so that she can care for us.   Mary shows us the same tenderness she showed Jesus as she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in the manger.   She instructs us, just as she instructed the staff at the wedding at Cana, to do whatever Jesus tells us.   She encourages us and prays with us as she did with the disciples awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit.   She welcomes each of us because she loves us as her own children.

Today, ask the Holy Spirit to show you how Mary cares for you.   Ask Mary herself to show you her love and tenderness.   Her maternal care is not just for the Church in general but for you personally.   So accept her into your home as John did.   Let her care for you.   Behold your mother.

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