Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mothers and Sons

I suppose my family is an odd bunch. We discuss faith matters like other people discuss the weather or politics. It has been like this for generations. Preachers and missionaries. Preachers' kids and missionaries' kids.

And the tradition continues. My son and his wife went on a mission trip this summer, and they returned today. Obviously, much of our talk - from the airport to home - was about their work over the summer.

I have learned to wait for open doors in these conversations, because God almost always provides an "in" for Catholic teaching.

I took my son and daughter-in-law to lunch and then to our home, where they had stored their vehicle over the summer. They came inside and relaxed for a few hours before heading home to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. My son manned the remote and stopped on the Gaither Gospel Quartet while my daughter-in-law and I watched with him. The Gaithers are an old family favorite. We listened to Mark Lowry as he did his stand-up routine before breaking into "Mary, Did You Know".

Part of the routine included Lowry's version of what Our Lord meant when He told Our Lady, "Woman, what is this to me? My hour has not yet come."

Aha. There's my moment. This was a bright and shining Catholic moment if there ever was one.

I asked my son if he had ever heard the "Catholic take" on this interchange. He said no and politely waited for his Catholic mother to do what she does best. Share Catholic gems with her non-Catholic family.

I explained that it was almost certainly a reference to Genesis. That this is one of two times when Jesus refers to His mother as Woman. At the beginning of His public ministry (at the Wedding at Cana) and again from the cross (as He gives His mother as the Mother to St. John and all Christian disciples until the end of time).

Our Lord deliberately calls His mother "woman" to express a beautiful truth. While Sacred Scripture tells us that Jesus is the New Adam, in these passages, Jesus announces that Mary is the New Eve:

The woman whose offspring would crush the head of the serpent. The woman in the Book of Revelation. A moon under her feet. Twelve stars surrounding her. A woman in travail. Doing battle with the enemy.

The New Eve, just as Jesus is the New Adam.

And because I know these moments don't come the same way twice, I continued to speak with passion to my son, trying to get all of it in.

In the garden, a fallen angel announces to Eve that this fruit is hers to freely eat, and she takes the fruit from the tree, and eats and gives it to Adam, and sin enters the world.

Another angel comes to the New Eve many years later and announces that she will bear fruit, and this fruit will give himself over to hang from that tree, and he will be the New Adam, and with his death, the stronghold of sin will be broken.

The New Adam and the New Eve bring life to the world through obedience, breaking the death curse which resulted because of the disobedience of the first Adam and Eve.

So, while it seems like Our Lord is reprimanding His own mother by saying "Woman, what is this to me", He was actually sharing a very special moment with His mother.

He was asking her, do you know what you are saying here? Do you know what this will mean, New Eve. If I do this, if I perform this miracle that we both know I can perform, it will be the beginning.

It will be the beginning of our journey to Calvary. Where I will die. And your heart will be pierced.

Woman, are you ready for this? Are you ready to be the New Eve? Are you ready for me to be the New Adam?

I think she must have smiled at her son then. Perhaps, she blinked back tears.

"Do whatever He tells you to do." She says this to His disciples. It is her second fiat. Her second yes to God. In this moment, she says once again, may it be done unto me . . . and unto you . . . as you say.

It was a beautiful moment with my son. I had been given the chance to tell him what I have learned about Our Lady and Her Son.

My son and I have a special bond. It began many years ago, when I went into labor on a Christmas Eve. As I watched the doctor sitting in a chair outside the door of my labor room, as I watched him drink coffee to wake up sufficiently to bring a baby into the world in the middle of the night, I thought of a baby born almost 2000 years earlier. Not in a hospital, not with a doctor. But a woman who gave the world God's Son and laid him in a manger.

Just minutes before the midnight hour on Christmas Eve 1985, I gave birth to a son.

And today, I was given the chance to share with him more fully the story of the Woman and the Son.



  1. That is really sweet. Thanks for sharing that with us.

  2. I agree! Very sweet & thanks for sharing. :D