Friday, March 29, 2013

Any other mother

Today is Good Friday, that day when Christ was crucified for the sins of humanity.  He went willingly to his death, accompanied by only Saint John and his mother, both of whom stood with him to the very last moment.  It is a day to reflect on my own faith as a mother, to see what Mary can teach me about how to be a better Christian mother.

Any other mother might have begged her son not to go through with this plan.  Her tears would have added to the burden he carried, her pleas making his steps toward doing what was needed even harder than they had to be.  Any other mother might have tried to stop the scourging at the pillar, might have tried to interfere with the nailing of her son to the cross.  Any other mother might not have trusted that God knew what He was doing, might not have trusted that the same God who created her son could also restore Him to life.  But Mary wasn't any other mother.  She was a woman completely devoted to and living her life in alignment with the will of God.

What she can teach us as mothers on this Good Friday is that we must not become an obstacle in the path of our children as they seek to do the will of the Lord.  We must not plead with them to spare themselves the pain of the cross, or use our tears to try and convince them that they need not do this good deed because of the cost.  We must trust that the same God who created them loves them far more than we ever could and will not allow their suffering or sorrows to be borne in vain. We must trust that the God who gave them life can restore life to them even if it is taken by another.  We must allow our sides to be pierced with a sword so that our children may fulfill the purpose for which they were born and allow salvation to come about through them.

What we learn from her is that we must be so in tune with God's will that we can discern when our child is on the path God has set for Him and when he has been distracted by the messages of the world.  That discernment is what gave Mary the strength she needed to allow God's will to be done rather than her own.  It was no lack of love for her son, or cowardice on her part that she did not interfere, but a complete and total surrender to God.  Mary didn't presume to limit God in terms of what He could do, either.  She accepted that God could bring about good through any kind of evil, and trusted not only that He could but that He also would.

This is what gave her the ability to stand apart from other mothers in what she chose to do that day.  This is what gave her the courage to stand there, without interfering, at the foot of the cross and watch as her precious son struggled for every breath.  She didn't shed tears and add to his burden.  She didn't draw attention to herself, begging for others to sympathize with her own plight instead of his.  She knew that God's will was best served by her own self-sacrificial demonstration of love, by simply being there with her son in his final hour and being the comfort to his heart that only she could be.

This is what is wrong with our children today.  We are not, as mothers, discerning the will of God for our children so that we can participate in it rather than interfere with it.  We are not teaching our children that good deeds often come with heavy crosses, but that this does not mean they should shy away from doing the good deed or serving God.

We refuse the cross of suffering alongside our child without losing trust or hope in God because we do not believe that He does all things for our good and our child's good even if the appearance of what is going on is terrible.  We shield them from every pain and every difficulty, and so we shield them from the cross, because we do not want to hurt for them.  We do not want to ache for them.  We do not want to stand at the foot of their cross and simply be there for them as Mary was.  This Good Friday, may we change our hearts and learn to teach our children to accept the cross in all its glory, that life isn't about happiness but about holiness, and may we learn to walk beside them in their difficult moments without losing trust or faith in God.

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