The month of May is resplendent with celebrations of Mary’s crowning and recognition of her role in our salvation. Statues of the Blessed Mother across the world are adorned with crowns of flowers and hymns are sung in honor of her sweet acceptance of God’s will. We are also reminded that it was in May of 1917 that Mary appeared to the children of Fatima and the rosary, as a powerful form of prayer, is said for the needs of our world - our need for peace. Yet, it is primarily at Christmastime that we recall the infamous words that set the most salvific action of all time into motion - Mary’s fiat - her acceptance of God’s will that His only begotten Son should become incarnate within her womb. It is worth recalling this world-changing event on a regular basis.
Whenever I encounter a person of the Protestant faith, most often among members of our extended family, and the topic of religion arises, it generally gravitates to the “far-reaching” devotion we have to Mary. On more than one occasion, I have been reminded that I have a very small window of opportunity to make a brief statement that facilitates understanding between us, for the winds of opposition generally blow through more quickly than anticipated. Why, after all these years of being corrected about my misconceptions of Mary, do I still hold to my Catholic understanding of her significance in the story of our salvation? When one accepts Jesus Christ as a personal savior, there is no need for mediators between us. When one remains true to Scripture there is no need for anything else. On one such occasion I was in the position to answer these questions - again. Yet, brevity is all I have available at such times. Suddenly the words we hear again and again at Christmas flooded into my mind. My response silenced the room.
“Mary was the first person to ever accept Jesus Christ as her personal Savior,” I responded. “It is written in Scripture, Luke 1:46-47.” There was continued silence so I began to recite what Catholics have come to know as the Magnificat. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” The two phrases end with Lord, and Savior. Mary not only accepted God as her savior, she accepted his incarnate son into her very self, to invite Christ to dwell within her. What greater way is there to accept Christ? Without her acceptance, as recorded in scripture, the idea of Christ as our savior and our Lord is without form.
The Eucharist we receive each time at Mass is a supreme act of accepting Jesus into our very selves. When the invitation to Communion begins the priest draws our attention to the Body and Blood of Christ: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who takes away the sins of the world. Blessed are those who are called to the supper of the Lamb.” We are invited to come to receive Christ, to accept his invitation to salvation, and to invite him to dwell within us. In response to God’s invitation, Mary acknowledges her humility “For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness…. And remembering his mercy.” Similarly, we respond with “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.”
The month of May is not only a reminder to say the rosary and acknowledge Mary as our Blessed Mother, it is a reminder to revisit the words of scripture which envisioned our future life in Christ. With our words of acceptance, we invite Christ to dwell within us. We look to Mary as a very blessed mother - and an indelible role model.