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May 10, 2009

In May, the month of Mary, we remember her role as mother

By Father Ryszard Gron


May is the month when we honor our heavenly mother, Mary. Mary, the mother of Jesus, is still an example of wise motherhood despite her story being more than 2,000 years old. There is a particular moment in the Bible that depicts Mary in this very role. We read about her pilgrimage with Joseph and Jesus to Jerusalem as described in the Gospel of Luke (2: 41-52), during which her son gets lost and then is found after three days of anxious searching.

We can only imagine the dramatic state of Mary’s soul because of this, which is noted in the above referenced passage, not to mention people who could have asked, how could a mother let it happen? This leads us to our question: are we dealing with a foolish and hasty teenager, or a responsible young mother?

Lost on the way

There is probably more than one mother who could express her disapproval for the fact that Mary lost her son on her way back from the pilgrimage and did not even notice his absence. How is it possible?

The evangelist explains that Mary assumed that Jesus was with the rest of the pilgrims. It indicates that as a mother she trusted her son, so, to an extent, she would allow him freedom of action, even if it involved being exposed to some risk. She believed that good people surrounded him since she provided him with a good example of life and religious upbringing, though leaving him some space for exercising freedom so that he could grow and learn how to be responsible.

As we can see she was not an oversensitive and overprotective mother who would shield her child from everything that could threaten or frighten him, assuming that he would not be able to handle it. Life will throw different challenges at us and children need to start learning how to face them at a very young age, without the adults relieving them of the experience, or hiding life’s painful moments away from them.

When Mary went back to Jerusalem looking for Jesus, her intuition did not fail her; she found him right where she expected him to be, surrounded by good people, inside the temple, where he was not wasting his time. The three days must have seemed like eternity to her, but this is the price for the steps toward maturity.

We probably remember our own feelings during similar tests of strength and times of suffering. Following his own reflections, long stirred up at his family home and influenced by prayers at the synagogue and reading from the holy scrolls, Jesus finally had the time and opportunity to discuss many of the issues on his mind. This is why he listened to the teachers in the temple, engaged in theological disputes with them and asked questions.

Customs are allies

In the end, when Mary found Jesus at the temple, she was glad that just like she was building her life around God, her son also found his source of strength in him. What mother is not content when her child starts recognizing the purpose of his life and strengthening his outlook, built on real values rooted in God?

It is also a valuable hint for today’s mothers, to view religious customs and traditions not as a hindrance, but as an ally, because they infuse the children with basic religious values, which help them grow spiritually and socially. Among those values are: obedience, humbleness, understanding, kindness and sensitivity to others, especially those in need.