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“Woman, behold your Son!”: The ecclesial Motherhood of Mary

“I place my Mother next to creatures for help and guidance, to be loved by her children, and at every moment she feels herself placed beside her children by her Son."

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Immediately after speaking to His mother, Jesus fixes his gaze on the disciple who is beside him and tells him: “Behold your mother!”. The Lord does not ask him to take care of her, to take her into his home to help and support her in the difficulties that life will reserve for her, to defend and assure her of assistance and protection, or to simply introduce her to his own private, personal and emotional life. We must not limit ourselves to a superficial interpretation of Jesus’ words, but rather grasp their deeper meaning. His intent is not to entrust His mother to John, but to hand over the disciple to Mary, giving her the mission of cooperating with His love in the conception and birth of the community of believers. On the cross the Redeemer institutes the ecclesial Motherhood of the Virgin, who in the flesh is mother only to Jesus while spiritually, insofar as she does the will of the Father, is mother to the members of the mystical body of Christ, of the Church.

Mary is the model of the Church, daughter, spouse and mother of the Eternal Word. In her, who is the new Zion, the mystery of the new Israel is summed up. She is the image of the Church as mother, that is, as a community in which the scattered children of God are gathered in Christ, who are brought back to the fold on the shoulders of the Good Shepherd. Precisely because she is the mother of Christ, the "firstborn among many brethren" (Rom 8:29), she is mother to all those who are reborn by faith in Him. Her Motherhood begins with the birth of Jesus and finds its fullness on Calvary. Mary is the new Eve who, free from every stain of sin by grace, gives birth to the people of the new covenant to eternal life. There is no contradiction in affirming that Mary is both image and mother of the Church. The little woman of Nazareth is the mother of Christ and our mother, mother of the Church. To become children of God it is essential to become children of Mary and of the Church. Jesus is the Father’s only begotten Son, and as we conform ourselves to and assimilate Christ through faith, we become children of God in the Only Begotten and, consequently, children of Mary.

In the writings of Luisa there are some passages that speak of Mary’s ecclesial Motherhood received at the foot of the cross. On April 20, 1938, for example, Jesus confided to Luisa that the pain that pierced Him most on the cross was His burning thirst. He felt Himself burning alive; all the vital humors had oozed out of His wounds, which like many parched mouths feeling a burning thirst wanted to quench it. So, unable to contain Himself, Jesus shouted “I thirst!” He never ceases to say it; with His open wounds and parched mouth He continually says “I burn, I am thirsty. O please! Give me a tiny drop of your love to give a little refreshment to my ardent thirst”.

In all that the creature does, Jesus always repeats to her with His open and parched lips “Give me to drink, for I am burning of thirst”. And since His dislocated and wounded Humanity had only one cry, “I thirst!”, as the creature walks Jesus cries out to her steps with His parched mouth saying, "Give me your steps made for love of me to quench my thirst”. If she operates, Jesus asks for her works done only out of love to cool off His ardent thirst; if she speaks, He asks for her words; if she thinks, He asks for her thoughts like so many tiny drops of love to restore Him from the burning thirst.

It was not just Jesus’ mouth that burned, but all His Most Sacred Humanity which felt the extreme need of a bath of refreshment to cool down the scorching fire of love. And since it was for creatures that He burned in the midst of excruciating pains, only they, with their love, could dampen His ardent thirst and give His Humanity a bath of refreshment.

Jesus left this cry, "I thirst!", in the Divine Will and committed to make the ears of creatures hear it at every moment, to move them to compassion for His burning thirst, to give them His bath of love and receive their bath of love, even if mere droplets, to refresh Him of His devouring thirst. But who listens to it? Who has compassion on Him? Only those who live in the Divine Will; all others play deaf and perhaps increase Jesus’ thirst with their ingratitude making Him restless and without hope of refreshment. And not only His "I thirst!", but everything He did and said. In the Divine Will He is always in the act of telling his sorrowing Mother, “Mother, here are your children”. He places her at their side to help and guide them and be loved by her children. At every instant she feels her Son placing her at their side. How she loves them as Mother and gives them her Motherhood to make Him be loved as she loves Him, and not only, but by giving her Motherhood she instills a perfect love among creatures so that they may love each other with a maternal love, which is a constant love of sacrifice and selflessness. But who receives all this good? Whoever lives in the "Divine Fiat" feels the Queen's Maternity, and she, one can say, puts her Maternal Heart in her children's mouth for them to suckle and receive the Maternity of her love, her sweetness, and all the qualities with which her Maternal Heart is enriched.

Whoever wants to find the Lord and receive all His goods and His own Mother must enter the Divine Will and remain therein. It not only is life, but with Its immensity forms around God Its dwelling in which to maintain all Its acts, words, and all that It is always in act. Divine things do not leave His Will. Those who want them must be content to live together with It and then everything is theirs, nothing is denied. And if God wishes to give to everything and the creatures do not live in His Will, they will not appreciate or love them; they will not feel they have the right to make them their own, and when things do not become one’s own, love does not rise but dies.

This is why Mary is also our Mother because she, who has always lived in the Will of God, can lead us with her maternal love to make God's Will our own as she did throughout her lifetime.

don Marco
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