Allow yourself to become vulnerable to the God of love
The reflective content of this session has been edited based on Chapter 3 of Fr James Martin’s book, Seven Last Words. Used with permission from HarperOne.
- As you begin today’s prayer, notice how you are feeling as you come into the presence of God. Then, begin by opening yourself to the Lord, allowing yourself to become vulnerable to the God of love. As you do this, remember that you are coming before the God who became vulnerable for you, in the body of Jesus.
Christians believe that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine
- Christians believe that Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine. Some Christians relate more to the human Jesus, the man who walked the landscape of first-century Palestine, who has a body, who feels what we felt and who was really and truly one of us.
- Others relate more to the divine Jesus, the one who has been raised from the dead, who reigns in heaven. Put another way, some people relate more to Jesus of Nazareth, others to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
- Today we turn our attention to Mary. Mary was a fully human person, not divine like Jesus. But still, people relate to her in two main ways. Many of us relate more to the Blessed Mother, the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God, the one who is praying for us in heaven. But in today’s session, we will think Mary in another way. We will think about Miriam of Nazareth, a woman living in a backwater village in Galilee called Nazareth. Hold this woman in your mind’s eye as you hear today’s reading from John’s Gospel…
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Imagine Mary, after that complicated life, standing at the foot of the cross.
- Many Christians idealize Mary. We think, “How wonderful it must have been to have been chosen for this! How marvellous to have been the mother of Jesus! What a grace-filled life she led! But although Mary did indeed lead a grace-filled life, we cannot forget that this real-life woman almost certainly experienced a great deal of confusion. Jesus’s ministry might have been confusing for Mary. And it was surely painful, as it would be for any mother, to watch him leave home. But even if he needed to distance himself as he began public ministry, Jesus loved his family.
- Imagine yourself with Miriam of Nazareth. She’s had a strange life. Chosen by God to do something that confused her at first. Asked to raise a son who, though we know little about his early life, was surely a unique child.
- Now imagine that son in Nazareth announcing that he’s leaving to preach the good news….Imagine Mary disturbed by what he’s doing….. Then imagine her coming to a greater understanding of his vocation and encouraging him to be who he was called to be.
- Next, Mary will be amazed at his power, and finally in awe of who her son is.
- Now imagine Mary, after that complicated life, standing at the foot of the cross. Imagine what it would have been like to hear her son say to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the Beloved Disciple, “Here is your mother.” What is Jesus doing for her in his last moments? He is caring for her.
Talk to God
Who might be in need of your help today?
- A question: Before this moment in Jesus’ life, before his time on the cross, when was he the most helpless and vulnerable? When he was an infant….God was dependent on us. And who cared most for God in his helplessness? Mary. How is it for you reflecting on Jesus’s vulnerability as an infant? Or do you prefer thinking about Jesus in his Divine form?
- In our helplessness, we can always help. At the beginning of his life, Mary helped the helpless infant Jesus. At the end of his life, the helpless Jesus helped Mary. In what way do you need Jesus’s help today?
- Who might be in need of your help today? How can you offer this to them?
- When you ask for the prayers of the Blessed Mother, then, you are not only praying to the Queen of Heaven, the Mother of God, but to Miriam of Nazareth, a woman who had a difficult life, who knows confusion, who knows heartache, who knows what it means to be loved and helped by Jesus. And who knows you. Now and at the hour of your death. Sit in the presence of Jesus now and offer your thoughts and heart to him, or to Mary, in these closing moments.