The Empathy of Mary, the Mother of Jesus
by Donna Murphy
We have talked about how Jesus is there for you. I would now like to talk about how Mary is there for you, too. Let’s reflect on Mary’s journey, and how she must have empathy for the families who experience the loss of a baby.
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:26-35).
When I read this passage, I focused on how Mary pondered these events. And we read that Mary goes and visits Elizabeth and sees all the angel said is true:
In Luke 2, the Gospel explains that Mary gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem. The shepherds are visited by an angel who tells them to go visit their savior and Messiah who has been born in the city of David, Bethlehem. In Luke 2:19 it says, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” I love this part how Mary is so reflective and keeps memories in her heart.
After Mary’s bleeding had stopped, Mary and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple. At the presentation in the temple, Mary and Joseph meet Anna and Simeon who spoke about how great Jesus is and would be.
The child’s father and mother were amazed at what was said about Him; and 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 (Luke 2:33).
Hearing the words, “You yourself a sword will pierce” would have probably been seriously pondered in Mary’s heart. Please continue to take this journey with me, I am just imagining what it would have been like for Mary. Please go there with me in your mind. Just imagine what would be going on in Mary’s life in Bethlehem. She would have stayed in Bethlehem recovering from childbirth. Imagine her, every day going to the well to fetch water holding baby Jesus. Imagine her just holding Him, nursing Him, and loving on Him. Imagine her sitting and talking with the other women. Imagine her looking at the other precious children playing and giggling. Imagine the infants cooing to their moms. Mary would have watched the little children playing, exploring, and having fun. She would see the older infants crawling to their mothers, or trying to get up and walk. Mary would watch with joy how these mothers loved their children with all their heart.
I imagine that she grew to love these ladies and their children. As she watched, she would be holding her own baby, Jesus, giving him hugs, kisses, and pure love. For weeks and months, she looked upon these children as they grew, wondering what Jesus would be like in these different stages. She reflected, made memories in her heart, and pondered all that was told to her by the angel and the prophets about her son.
The Magi came to Jerusalem and asked King Herod where to find the Newborn King of the Jews. Herod’s advisors told him the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. Herod became worried, and asked them to return after their visit to tell him who the new King of the Jews was so he could worship him. Herod actually planned to kill the baby. The Magi visited Jesus, but did not return to Herod. Eventually Herod realized the Magi were not returning. He was so worried of a threat to his power that he sent his soldiers to Bethlehem to kill all the babies 2-years-old and younger. We know God sent another angel who appeared to Joseph, and told him to escape to Egypt with Mary and Jesus.
I would imagine after the angel warned Joseph, that the couple quickly packed up their few belongings, and threw them on a donkey. Mary sat upon the donkey and held Jesus. Joseph quickly lead the donkey out of town.
As they passed the houses, Mary remembers her new friends. She remembers how precious and darling their children are to their mothers and to her. She loved them, and heard the cries of mothers and babies as the children are being murdered. She wanted to help, but she could not. In her arms, she held the only chance that those mothers and babies would be reunited. She held Jesus who would open the gates of Heaven so these mothers and all mothers could be with their babies again.
Jesus would be the savior. She knew somehow Jesus would bring these mommies and babies back together again. She would have cried and mourned deeply as she passed those houses thinking of those babies. She agonized at how they would be killed, how those mothers would suffer and grieve. Oh how her heart must have been pieced…for the first time.
I don’t know for sure, but I really believe that Jesus really prepared his mother well for his suffering, death, and resurrection. I think she knew that his suffering and death would open the gates of Heaven.
Later when her son would suffer and die, she would be there the whole time watching him. I don’t know how she had the strength. But I have to imagine knowing that Jesus’ death and resurrection would allow those mothers and babies to be together again would give her the strength to watch her son suffer and die. She knew her son’s death and resurrection was the only way that could happen.
She watched as her son was crucified knowing he would rise, and knowing that he was the only hope of those mothers and babies to be together forever in paradise. After Jesus died, he was placed in her arms and she held her dead baby. He was 33-years-old, but always her baby. Her heart was pierced again.
Thank you, Mary, for your Fiat, for saying yes to being the mother of our Lord. You gave Him support when He was suffering the whipping and torture, supported him as he carried his cross. You poured out your love as your son Jesus was dying, and believed in his resurrection.
Thank you, Jesus, for your resurrection that would open the gates of Heaven so that we could have the hope of being in Heaven with our babies, as well as with you and our whole reunited family.