Motherhood for All
Mary’s distinctive role in the Christmas story is capsulized in the phrase born of a woman.
Theologians are quite right when they refer to Mary as the first follower of Christ, being with from Bethlehem to Calvary. Her challenge to understand the mystery of her Son’s life reaches a high point when she listens to the story of the shepherds, narrated in today’s gospel. Her response is acceptance. She does not ask for explanations. She decides to look forward to the fulfillment of the promise of God’s messenger during the Annunciation. Her attitude is summarized in today’s gospel: “But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.”
To celebrate the Solemnity of Mary as Mother of God on the first day of every year is an approach to see each year with the Marian sense of struggling for meaning in life’s troubles and tribulations.
We are not to portray the motherhood of Mary and of all mothers as idealized in the Hallmark cards for Mother’s Day. Behind the sweetness and serenity of most Marian portraits are the bitter moments and turbulent experiences she has to go through as a mother and as a believer.
As we focus on the admirable qualities of motherhood, we should see these virtues as something we all can develop and share with others. The responsibility of nurturing those around us is not exclusive to mothers. It is a responsibility which we can all assume as individuals and as community.
This does not diminish the unique role of motherhood. This avoids the trap of putting the burden on mothers of perpetuating long-held stereo-types that these are mother’s special roles and excuse ourselves from the responsibility of sharing in the life-giving, nurturing, reconciling functions that we have come to expect from mothers. To truly respect the qualities of mother, we must maintain that they are equally valid for all of us.
The Church is oftentimes referred to as Mother Church. Becoming Church, as the Sacrament of Christ, is beyond gender or roles. As Church, we are called upon to acquire and exercise the qualities of God’s love in our daily relationships, particularly in the family. To be Church is to combine all our gifts and talents in the pursuit of our common vision of a better world.