"When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”"
"Most blessed are you among women..." It occurred to me recently how truly mouth dropping this verse is. A lot of wisdom and knowledge can be gleaned from these few words when you take the time to consider the life both the Blessed Mother and Jesus lived. I think of her and I know well that she was the mother to our Lord Jesus. However, personally, I don't often think of her as a mom. A mom who had her baby in her womb those many trying months, a mom who gave birth to her child (and in a lowly and humble manger), a mom who nursed and swaddled and cared for her child, a mom who taught and helped her child to grow, a mom who cared for her child when he was sick...a mom. This is the mom who was told by Simeon:
"Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, “Behold, this child is destined for the fall and rise of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be contradicted and you yourself a sword will pierce so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.”"
To the woman whom Elizabeth proclaimed through the Holy Spirit to be the most blessed is also the woman whom Simeon prophesied that a sword will pierce her, and indeed we know this to be true. This most blessed woman endured the pain of watching her son be crucified on the cross. Can you imagine? I can't. It sounds horrible. I love Jesus, He is my Lord and Savior, and it brings me pain to consider his final hours. Yet add to that the pain of watching your only child suffer in such a cruel way, though innocent and Holy.
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary of Magdala.
I am sure that she felt the pain of her son at the deepest of levels. When one of my children simply scrape a knee or bite their tongue, my heart aches for them. When one of my children are neglected and left out at the playground, I am deeply saddened, filled with heartache and even anger at the other children hurting my child. Mary witnessed the rejection of her Son, culminating in His death, and I know that she felt this in the depths of her heart. A pain so deep and real. Yet she is regarded as the most blessed among women. Mary is the most blessed for many reasons. She was the mother of Jesus, she said yes to God, she trusted Him fully even through uncertainty and pain. There is another reason as well. Jesus tells us of this during His Sermon on the Mount. She isn't the most blessed in spite of all of her suffering, but because of all her suffering.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
This is true for us as well. When we endure these sufferings, we are united with Jesus and Mary, as well as all the Saints. So often we consider suffering to be a bad thing, certainly the world considers it this way and has used this mindset to justify the abortion of countless babies, physician-assisted suicide, suicide, and so many other evils all to avoid the cost of suffering. Additionally, this mindset can get us into trouble as it often leads to depression and self-pity when we feel as though we've been dealt a bad hand, or when in an attempt to avoid suffering we turn away from Gods Will for us, disconnect ourselves from others, or from the Church. Sadly, this lie is a very nasty one. We avoid suffering thinking it to be wise when in reality we are avoiding blessing and life. God's ways are sure mysterious, I know! Let's be like Mary, like Jesus, and like the saints who have gone before us who say YES to God and to suffering, all for the sake of the kingdom and the salvation of souls.