Why Does Mary Get to be the Perfect Mother?
As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve long had a hang-up with perfectionism. And for a long time, I really struggled with Mary. It just didn’t seem fair to me that Jesus made his own mother perfect, but left the rest of us to struggle. Why couldn’t he have made the rest of us perfect, too?
A mother who remains patient, never yells at her kids, perfectly loves her husband all the time, and always cooks amazing home-cooked meals? It seems life would have been a lot easier this way!
A better understanding of this has come throughout time and a deeper relationship with the Trinity. So, a short blog can’t contain all there is to say on the subject. But I do want to reflect on one thing:
Mary is perfect because she said yes, and allowed Christ to dwell in her. As we celebrated the Visitation yesterday where pregnant Mary went to visit her pregnant cousin Elizabeth, we are reminded of the “gift of the yes”, and the new life it bore. Not just in the person of Jesus, born as a baby, but the new life all of us receive through Christ’s grace. Let’s be clear, though: Mary’s ability to be perfect did not exclude her from suffering. On the contrary, she suffered more than most of us parents may ever experience. But joy is born through that suffering, and love gives life through death!
So I will never be Mary. I have accepted that. But God is not asking me to be Mary. He made Mary perfect- as in, without sin – but He made me “perfect”, too – as in, capable of giving and receiving love. He made me perfect because God doesn’t make mistakes, and he didn’t make one in creating me! It’s through my marriage and my motherhood that I am able to make a gift of my self in love. It stretches me to love in ways I would not have imagined! But in that way I am slowly transformed into the perfect image of Divine Love himself.
Most importantly, these life lessons are perfected in receiving His love in the Eucharist: I say yes to receiving His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in my own body every Sunday, and I become perfected like Mary. I say yes, and this new life of grace dwells in me. I become a bearer of God, in union with God, and that’s right where God wants me. He wants me to be in union with Him, not try to be perfect on my own.
I want to share with you a few words the Lord spoke to me a few months ago on retreat:
“I am not asking you to do everything or be everything. Just be you, with the specific gifts I have given you…
I love you. There is nothing you could do that would change that. I am sovereign, but I am personal, and that’s what I would like to reveal to you today. “
I don’t have to be Mary, and I don’t have to be perfect, because God loves me where I am at. He embraces the messiness of marriage and parenting! And that is the most beautiful thing about His love and mercy: where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more.
Painting by Sandro Botticelli