MARY: MOTHER, MEDIATRIX, MAGNIFICAT
-Fr. Cedric Prakash sj*
A birthday is always very special! It reminds one of the gift of life and the non-negotiable truth in the words of Rabindranath Tagore that “every child comes with a message that God is not discouraged with man.” Today is the birthday of Mary, the Mother of Jesus - so for large sections of the human family, her birthday every year is actually an extra special day!
Mary radiates innumerable qualities; many of them are beautifully reflected in the ‘Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary’. There are however, three outstanding dimensions in her through which she has touched the lives of people in her own times and does so down the centuries till today.
Mary is Mother
From the time Mary gave birth to Jesus, she becomes a universal mother. She is what all mothers symbolize: loving, caring, protecting, understanding and even at times reprimanding. But the “mother” in her transcends the narrow confines of her own family and even of her own Son. She becomes a mother for all very specially for the lost, the listless and the lonely. Those who come to her know that she is there: her loving embrace and her shoulder always ready to provide the necessary consolation. “Son, behold your Mother” – Jesus reminds us from the Cross.
Mary is Mediatrix
“Do whatever he tells you”, Mary tells the stewards at the wedding in Cana after the wine has run out. And Jesus responds. Mary does intercede for us at all the time. To Jesus through Mary has become an accepted practice among Catholics – this however has to be understood in context. In his encyclical ‘Redemptoris Mater’ Pope John Paul II writes “Mary’s mediation is intimately linked with her motherhood…through this fullness of grace and supernatural life, she was especially predisposed through cooperation with Christ, the one mediator of human salvation. And such cooperation is precisely this mediation subordinated to the mediation of Christ”. (#14)
Mary is Magnificat
Perhaps this is strange adjective to describe Mary; but this is one song which totally personifies her. Often referred to as Mary’s canticle, the Magnificat which echoes several Biblical passages from the Old Testament is a prophetic prayer of praise and petition: confident that God will never let his people down. Anne Johnson in her book ‘Miryam of Nazareth’ writes “The Magnificat prayer form is a concise and powerful expression of the totality of the God-human relationship, that dialogue which turns the world inside out, confirms our history and calls us to remember and renew. This poem form expresses the rich and extremely effective feminine approach to a life lived in a consort with a creative God. Mary as a woman made in the eternal image and reflecting that image is a woman who lives and expresses her God relationship in its fullest potential”.
As we celebrate the birthday of Mary today, the one image that should come powerfully home for us today is the one of Mary seated in the upper room with the disciples of Jesus, motivating them in their hopelessness; being for each one of them Mother, Mediatrix and Magnificat; we need to permit these dimensions of Mary to touch our lives in a profound way today.
8th September, 2014
(*Fr. Cedric Prakash SJ is the Director of PRASHANT, the Ahmedabad-based Jesuit Centre for Human Rights, Justice and Peace.)
Address: PRASHANT, Hill Nagar, Near Kamdhenu Hall, Drive-in Road, Ahmedabad - 380052