The local newspaper runs a column by a local pastor. Recently she took up the question of whether we should pray to Mary. This pastor is one of several in our area who grew up Catholic and then migrated to another church. My family traveled the other way. My earliest memories of Christianity are a reformed Episcopalian church, a Lutheran church, and a Christian and Missionary Alliance church (like the Gospel Chapel). When I was about 12 years old my family made the switch to Catholic. I was the one who had the biggest problem with becoming Catholic. I didn’t like the idea of having to obey the Pope and I definitely did not like devotion to Mary. Over time I have come to appreciate the role of Mary in the Christian life.
The first thing that opened my eyes was realizing that Mary was also a disciple. She was undeniably the first to meet Jesus and respond to his Gospel (Luke 1:26-56). She had enough faith to ask for his first miracle (John 2:1-11). She was present at the crucifixion and at Pentecost (Acts 1:14). You couldn’t ask for a more faithful disciple than Mary. This is why Jesus’ words in Matthew 12:50 are not words of dismissal but praise. See also Luke 11:27-28, where Jesus praises his mother for, “hearing the word of God and keeping it.” Mary was a faithful disciple of her Son. She can teach us how to be faithful disciples.
Jesus has a Father, God, and a Mother, Mary. When we become children of God by adoption, we are made into “little Christs” (that’s what Christian means). We have God as a Father and Mary as a Mother. This is the point of John 19:25-27. John wants every Christian to see themselves as the Beloved Disciple. When Jesus tells John, “Behold your Mother,” he is giving every Christin a mother. We see the natural consequence of this in the book of Revelation, where everyone who keeps the commandments of God and bears witness to Jesus is called the offspring of Mary (Rev 12:17).
This is why we pray to Mary. Mary knows Jesus better than anyone. She wants to help every Christian, “hear the word of God and keep it.” Her role is not to replace Jesus but to lead us to Jesus. I know my earthly mother prays for me every day. That doesn’t stop me from calling and asking for extra prayer when things are difficult. I often call my Heavenly Mother as well and ask her for prayers. She has been such a good mother to me, and her prayers are very powerful. I hope that everyone can discover, as I have, how wonderful a Mother we have in Mary.
Happy Mothers Day!