Finding Mary in today's world

In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we can find the solution in Mother Mary
Finding Mary in today's world

Filipino Catholics mark the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a religious procession in Manila on Sept. 8. (Photo by Maria Tan)

Pope Francis described her as "the woman of prayer and work ... who sets out from her town 'with haste' to be of service to others."

"This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern for others, is what makes the ecclesial community look to Mary as a model of evangelization," wrote the pontiff in "The Joy of the Gospel."

Mary was as human as all of us. In reflecting on Mary’s life we can find solutions to problems that afflict all of us today.

That she was the Immaculate Conception, "full of grace," was "blessed among women" did not exempt her from the trials and sufferings she had to go through.

"She crowns Him not with what is glorious, but with what is greater than glory: the one thing greater than glory is weakness, nothingness, poverty," wrote Thomas Merton in "Sunset: Compline."

And are we not all weak, nothing, and poor?

Tradition tells us that Mary, at 3 years old, was taken to the temple by her parents, Joachim and Anne, and was consecrated to God in fulfillment of a vow. She was to remain there until the age of 12.

The value of this story is that even in her childhood, Mary was already dedicated to God and, in the temple, was occupied with serving God.

Orphans who grew up without their parents can identify with Mary and parents can look to the child Mary as a model for their own children.

At 15, imagine Mary, single and pregnant. She must have been food for gossip, a perfect scenario for wagging tongues. Yet with courage, she gave her yes to God’s will.

"I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to Your word," she said.

Mary can be a model for those who are maligned and falsely accused.

Although we may not be able to fully understand it now, as Mary didn’t understand the angel’s message then, God had plans for her and for us. As the prophet Jeremiah wrote: "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."

When her time to give birth came, there was no place for her. Laboring and exhausted, she and her husband, Joseph, settled for an animal shelter, a cave.

Let us look at our poor street families with no roof over their heads, no beds to sleep on, only small carts built with scraps or cardboard to protect them from the cold.

They can look at Mary, giving birth to the savior of the world in a cave, cold rock and hard soil for their bed.

Mary must have been radiant, as all mothers are when they see their newborn for the first time, as she gazed at her son no matter if he was only wrapped in swaddling clothes, poor yet full of the joy of holding God’s treasure.

The very poor have only their children as their treasures.

And can’t our migrant workers, whose only motivation is to protect their children from an uncertain future, relate with Mary who fled to Egypt to protect her child?

Mary as mother to Jesus the child did all the ordinary things mothers do — cook, wash, keep house and simply enjoy her child. Mothers can look to Mary, doing ordinary things as a way to holiness.

And when Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem after the Festival of the Passover, the distraught Mary frantically looked for Him.

We, families of victims of enforced disappearance, are just as distraught in our search for our loved ones.

At the wedding at Cana, Mary cared enough to tell Jesus. Using tact, not asking but just informing. "They have no more wine," she said.

Jesus understood. And though He said,"my hour has not yet come," she had absolute confidence that He would do something thus she told the servants, "Do whatever He tells you."

We can and must intercede for others as Mary did.

And as the sorrowful mother who witnessed her son unjustly tortured and crucified to death, courageously she accompanied Him up to the foot of the cross.

Mothers suffer more from seeing the suffering of children than being in pain themselves. Victims of injustice, like the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, can identify with this Mary, the sorrowful mother.  

In whatever circumstance we find ourselves, we can find the solution in Mary. Above all, we can hope to be Mary, the reflection of her Son.

Edita Burgos is a doctor of education and a member of the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official editorial position of

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