I suppose the whole world couldn’t contain the poems, stories, and memories we children collect about our mothers. I know I owe much of my good qualities to the brave lady who raised me and my little brother. And the one quality I always remember is that, no matter what was going on in my life, I could always, and I mean always, count on my mom.
The bond between mother and child is common in every culture of humanity. No matter the tribe, the language, the politics, or even the passage of time, this bond between mother and child is hailed in the story from one generation to another. That’s why it is such a news item when that bond is missing or broken. Think about it, the tragic stories of mothers who turn on their children are sensational BECAUSE it is completely opposite from the norm.
So, what are we to make of the Uncreated God entering His creation through a human mother? If it is natural for the bond of mother and child to be lauded and celebrated through the centuries, what are we to think about God taking His flesh and dwelling in His Creation through a human mother? And when we add His eternal being and resurrection to this reality, we have a relationship between Son and mother that lasts forever. In light of the Incarnation and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, there is still a woman the Son of God still calls “mother.” Her connection to Him, just as our connection to Him, causes her, and us, to share in His eternal life. Amazing!
Look at our lesson today in Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28:
At that time, Jesus entered a village; and a woman called Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve you alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.” As he said this, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
The story is so familiar to us! Martha is “distracted with much serving” and she asks the Lord to command her sister to help her. But Jesus answers in such a way that it turns the common social order on its head. The Lord blesses a woman to sit at His feet and learn the faith along with the men in the room! Another lady, hearing this amazing declaration, does what has been normal through the centuries: She praises the mother that raised such a man!
But Jesus does something amazing AGAIN! He then reorients this woman’s praise of His mother to the proper reason behind the real power of this mother’s pattern of life. The Lord insists that it isn’t the mere natural bond of family relationships that made His life so special. No, it is the fact that His mother heard the word of God and obeyed it that set up a pattern of salvation, the plan of redemption that made this Good News possible for the hearers of the Lord’s message that day and even in this day!
Today, as we celebrate the birth of Mary to Joachim and Anna, we do not magnify Mary as “more honorable than the Cherubim, and more glorious beyond compare with the Seraphim” simply because of her birthing God’s Son into the world; although that act alone demands eternal acknowledgment and joy. No, we see our Lady as she is; the first to hear the Good News and invite Christ to live inside of her and her obedience, humility, faith, and love set the example of how we humans can cooperate with the grace of God to change the world! Her free and loving “yes” made my relationship possible with Christ, the Christ with skin on Him that I can love, follow, and embrace. She was the first to be Orthodox on Purpose!