Father James Swanson, LC
While Jesus was speaking,
a woman from the crowd called out and said
to him, "Blessed is the womb that carried you
and the breasts at which you nursed." He replied, "Rather,
blessed are those who hear the word of God
and observe it."
Introductory Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are
the master of the universe, and yet you wish
to listen to me and guide me. You know all
things past, present and future, and yet you respect
my freedom to choose you. Holy Trinity, you are
completely happy and fulfilled on your own, and yet you
have generously brought us into existence. You are our
fulfillment. Thank you for the gift of yourself. I
offer the littleness of myself in return, knowing you
are pleased with what I have to give.
Lord, help me to imitate Mary.
1. Mary’s Masterpiece: The
woman in this passage has a great insight. She senses
the greatness of Jesus. Probably she intuits that he
is the Messiah. It is doubtful if she has
guessed that he is also God-made-man. But from Jesus’ greatness,
she is able to infer the greatness of Mary.
It is obvious to her that whoever produced this
masterpiece of humanity must have been a masterpiece of humanity
herself. And she is right. The humanity of Jesus
is Mary’s masterpiece. All of what she is, she
imparted to him. While we cannot credit Mary with the
perfections of Jesus’ divinity, we would be doing her
a grave injustice to think that Jesus’ human virtues
and perfections were not positively impacted by her example.
The Immaculate Conception: God desired Jesus to come into
this world like every one of us, as an infant,
and so Jesus needed a mother. God wanted him
to have the finest mother, a perfect mother, and
so he gave Mary many gifts, starting with her Immaculate
Conception, preserving her from original sin. Who could imagine
Jesus – pure and innocent – wrapped in flesh
polluted by sin for the first nine months of his
existence? Would such an innocent child ever have been
able to stop crying while being tended to by
a sinner? The Father wanted the best for his Son
and gave him the best, even though he had
to provide the miracle of the Immaculate Conception in
order to do it.
3. Jesus’ Educator: Being truly human,
Jesus had to learn just like any one of us.
Because of his divinity, his human capacities were untainted
by sin, but it was Mary who taught him
how to use them, who honed them in the everyday
life of the family until they were perfect –
just as any mother would. Mary was the perfect
one to bring out all the perfections in Jesus’ human
nature. Being immaculately conceived, Mary’s mind was not wounded
by sin and so was always able to discover
ways of parenting and teaching that were perfectly suited to
Jesus’ human nature. To educate doesn’t mean to just
give knowledge. In its fullest sense, it means to
train in virtue. Mary’s continuous example of virtue –
hearing the word of God and observing it – was
certainly compelling for Jesus in his educational upbringing.
Conversation with Christ: Dear Jesus, it’s hard for
me to understand that, as human, you needed education just
like anyone else. Help me to see that you
were truly and fully human like me. Moreover, since
you have already given me Mary to be my Mother,
ask her to educate me too, to form me
in all the virtues the way she formed them in
Resolution: Do I really think of Mary
as my educator in the full sense, in the
sense of teaching me virtue? What is the virtue
I need the most? I will ask Mary to educate
me in it in a special way today.