By Fr. Joseph Royan, C.Ss.R –
As Catholics, we have grown familiar with the expression “To Jesus through Mary”. I often get asked both by Catholics and our separated brothers and sisters the question, “If the Bible tells us that we have one mediator ‘Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim 2:5-6) why do I need to go to Jesus through Mary, why not directly address all our prayers through Jesus to our Father in heaven and Jesus never asked us to come to him through Mary?”
It is so true that Jesus is our only mediator to the Father and yes, Jesus never asked us to come to him through Mary, but let us not forget that Jesus came to us through Mary. It was Mary’s fiat, her “Yes” that enabled Jesus to come to us and us to Him.
Let us analyse from a scriptural perspective the events and sayings in the Bible that convey the meaning intended by the expression, “To Jesus through Mary”:
Luke Chapter 1 describes in detail that God in his infinite wisdom, decided to come into the world to save all of humanity in His Incarnation, but also through the generous “Yes” and collaboration of Mary. Mary is not a pure accident. She is part of God’s plan and mother in a full human sense. To understand Mary means to understand Jesus better; she was his mother and educator. Subsequently, she was his first disciple.
Furthermore, the angel’s greeting to Mary in Lk 1:28 “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you”, Elizabeth’s greeting to Mary in Lk 1:42, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” and the Magnificat, where Mary foretells in Lk 1:48, “Behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed”, all these verses testify the greatness and blessedness of Mary. If God has exalted her and gave her an important role in the history of human salvation, who are we to belittle or demean our blessed mother?
In John 2, “The Wedding at Cana” demonstrates Mary’s indomitable role in ushering Jesus into his public ministry and in bringing about His first miracle at Cana in Galilee. Mary’s discreet but nonetheless determined intervention – subordinate to the will of the Son – culminates in the essential meaning of this sentence: “To Jesus through Mary.” What she tells us is, in everything do his will.
The scene at the foot of the Cross in John 19: 25-27 describes a vital moment where Jesus entrusts to the beloved disciple his mother Mary. John, the disciple whom Jesus loved, brought Mary into his home, into his life. Spiritual writers have seen these words of the Gospel as an invitation to all Christians to bring Mary into their lives. Mary certainly wants us to invoke her, to approach her confidently, to appeal to her as our mother, asking her to “show that you are our mother.” John 19: 25-27 is the classical Scripture text substantiating Mary’s spiritual maternity for us.
In the events that unfolded between the ascension and Pentecost. Mary is seen praying in Acts 1:14 with the disciples in the upper room, eagerly awaiting the promised Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost day marks the birth of the Church, and just as Mary had a major role in the incarnation of the Word, she was intimately involved in the beginning of the Church, which is the mystical body of Christ.
If Christ is the head of the Church, Mary is the mother of the Church. From the first moment of the Church all Christians who have sought the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ have encountered our Lady and experienced her motherly care. As St Augustine puts it: “With her charity she cooperates in the birth of faithful to the Church and they are members of a head, of which she is effectively Mother in the flesh.” Mary is the Mother of God, the Mother of the Church, and she is our Mother in the order of grace! And as our beloved mother, she would never refuse to pray for her children and all those who have recourse to her will never be lost. (St. Alphonsus Liguori).
During the days of the novena in honour of our Mother of Perpetual Help, thousands flock at our Holy Ghost Church, Bangalore, India. Even though millions around the world are drawn to the miraculous Icon of our Mother of Perpetual Help, our blessed mother in the icon draws us to her Son Jesus. Her penetrating gaze draws our focus to the Child in her arms, her fingers point to Jesus. It is never about Mary, it is about her Son Jesus, He is our Perpetual Help. The Icon, therefore, is only a means to an end, which is Jesus Christ. The icon draws us to Christ through Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
The saints of the Church who are placed before us as models to imitate, unanimously agree on the indispensable role that God has chosen in choosing Our Lady, Mary most holy, as a surer means and instrument for our eternal salvation. By giving ourselves to Jesus through the hands and Immaculate Heart of Mary we will be travelling speedily on the highway to holiness which ends up in heaven-our eternal resting place!
Fr. Joseph Royan, C.Ss.R belongs to the Congregation of the Most Redeemer. He has completed his licentiate in Moral Theology and is currently professor of Moral Theology at St. Alphonsus College. He is also Director of Redemptorist Publications India and Editor of “Breaking the Word.”