Sometimes we tend to overdo things without mindful that others do not understand our actions. Worse if those who see how we acted would not ask for clarification and would rather believe in what they see.
One time I was in a Bible study and the Facilitator asked, “Why do you Catholics treat Mary as a God?” My eyes rolled in disbelief. “Oh no, that is not what we believe in,” I said. Then the Facilitator continued, “Then how come you pray to her for petitions, you ask her for favors, you wipe handkerchiefs on her images, you pray the rosary, ” his litany of religious practices that most Catholics do went on and on.
So I humbly said, “Forgive us, Friend, if we led you to believe that; but that is not correct.” It was the Facilitator this time who was surprised. I continued, “You see, we believe in Mary just like how you believe in her role in the life of Jesus. We know and we acknowledge her importance in the story of our salvation. We are very grateful for her willingness to give her unconditional ‘yes’ to God.”
The Facilitator seemed confused. “Then how come I see those practices being done by Catholics?”
Sometimes in life we tend to overdo things. Sometimes we forget the meaning of what we are doing. Sometimes we just follow what others are doing, blindly or even intentionally.
It is just like in a workplace. Proper training of new entrants dictates that they learn the right concepts, the right processes, the right ways of doing things by reading the work manuals. It is very dangerous to just let them listen and observe; otherwise, they may learn the shortcuts or worse, they learn the wrong protocols. I admire companies who are generous enough to share their Employee Handbook and Manuals to new entrants so that the latter can learn from the horse’s mouth. Thus, it is also very important that these Employee Hadnbook and Manuals are updated.
I grew up as a Catholic. I went to a Catholic school. But it was only when I started attending Christian Bible study groups when I had the chance to really read the Bible. It was only then that I internalized the meaning of the Word and how some religious practices are not written in the Bible. It was then that I understood why there are different Christian groups.
But whatever we believe in, the fact remains that Mary was the mother of Jesus. The fact of her humility and obedience to God could not be denied. Mary said “yes” and that meant a lot to us today.
However we show our love for Mary would be based on our personal relationship with her. However we are so attached to her would be in response to that close relationship with her. Whatever we do to honor her would be our personal concern. What remains is the truth and Jesus is the truth.
It cannot be denied that a mother would always have a special place in the heart of a son. Sometimes, when I want to get a favor from someone who I do not personally know, I would look for means to connect to that someone’s mother. She could help me bring my concern to her son in the most informal and most intimate way; the mother-child relationship. Most often, it works pretty well.
Mary is not a God. To believe so would be sinful as there is only One God. But Mary is the Mother of Jesus and if we have that special relationship with her, she can always help us get that access to her Son’s attention. In the story of the Wedding at Cana, Mary told Jesus that the wedding reception was running out of wine. Jesus answered His Mother saying, “My hour has not yet come.” (John 2:4). But just the same, Mary told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5). And Jesus performed His first miracle when He changed water into the best wine in that wedding reception.
We may not love her. We may not adore her. We may not mention her in our prayers. We may not pray the rosary. We may not recite the novenas for her. All of these we do not want to do because we do not want to overdo things. But we simply have to respect her as the Mother of our Lord. That is a fact and we cannot deviate from that truth. Mary was, Mary is, and Mary will always be the Mother of Jesus. So if we say we love Jesus, the Son, then, we respect His Mother.