A Catholic Monthly Magazine

God’s Plan of Life for Us

By Fr TonyKing sm

Jesus and Mary: One Together

As long as God has been God – and that is without any beginning, eternally – he has desired that we human creatures should also be his children. Since the Fall, the gift of God comes to us only through Christ, through ‘being born from above,’ as Jesus said to Nicodemus.

And when Nicodemus asked ‘how?’, Jesus referred to his passion, death (and resurrection) in his reply:
As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him (John 3:14, 15).

‘Eternal life’ is the life that is ours through sharing in God’s own life, as his children. That divine gift is often called ‘grace,’ a gift freely given by God.

And Mary is the ‘Mother of Grace,’ our ‘Mother in the order of grace,’ as the Vatican Council expressed it (Lumen Gentium, The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, # 61). If it is only through Christ that we are made God’s own children, yet Mary is our Mother in that supernatural order, is there something lacking, something not quite adequate, in Jesus? Was something else, someone else -- Mary -- needed?

Not so! A purely imaginary example may be of some help. Imagine that you are living in a densely forested area. A huge bushfire is sweeping across the whole district. There is only one escape route, across a very wild, dangerous river. You know a man of great strength and courage who could row you across in his boat. You find him, and he agrees to take you, with one condition: that a small boy, a relative, also come and help, to be associated with him in the work. On his own, the small boy could not possibly get you safely across the river. On his own, the man could do so. In his great strength he is more than adequate. But he chooses to do so ONLY with the young boy associated with him in the work. They row you across! To safety, to life.

God’s saving plan, to draw us into eternal life with him, is through Jesus. And Jesus is sufficient; infinitely more than adequate. But he does have an associate!

Fra Angelico, c. 1419

God’s love, which gifted us with Jesus, also gifted Jesus, and us, with Mary. And God’s gift of Mary to Jesus was not only as mother, but as his most intimate associate in his life-giving work.

Jesus did not row a boat across a river. He, as it were, ‘mounted’ a cross to pass through death to life, for us.

And Mary was there.

In John’s Gospel, we find the words of the Good Shepherd:
The Father loves me because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me. I lay it down of my own free will. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again (John 10:17, 18). And:
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother (John 19:25).

Turn again to the words of Vatican Council II:

The Blessed Virgin loyally persevered in her union with her Son unto the cross. There she stood, in keeping with the divine plan, suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself with a maternal heart to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this victim which she herself had brought forth (Lumen Gentium #58).

In subordination to Him, and along with Him, by the grace of almighty God, she served the mystery of Redemption (Lumen Gentium #56).

In the Gloria at Mass, we praise God, ‘giving thanks for your great glory.’ In that ‘glory’ is God’s love, mercy and wisdom, gifting us with the gift of his Son, so that we can have life as God’s children. And the plan of divine wisdom has Mary, the new Eve, the Son’s mother and associate.

Yes, let us indeed give God ‘thanks for your great glory.’

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