A beautiful meditation on Christ’s love for His mother and for all womankind….
All Through His Life
Writers have sometimes stated that women had little place in the life of Christ. This is a strange, unintelligible statement utterly without foundation.
Once, the writers argue, when He sat by a well and talked with a Samaritan woman, the Apostles were surprised. The writers forget that the disciples would have been equally surprised had they found Him talking with a Samaritan man. Samaritans were the hated enemies of the of Jews, and with them the Jews had no sort of voluntary communication.
Certainly the Apostles who had accompanied Him so intimately could hardly have been surprised that He showed this needy woman interest and sympathy. They had never seen Him show any woman anything else.
Later on they were to hear Him speak sternly to a pagan woman; but this was to make the faith of an outcast woman shame unbelieving Jewish men. Women walk through the pages of Christ’s life with calm frequency. They are often close to Him, in His company, playing dramatic roles in His life’s story.
They are consistently the recipients of His kindness and His gracious favors. To talk or write as if Christ ignored or avoided or had little dealing with women is simply to leave out or pass over whole sections of the Gospel story. It is utterly to misunderstand Christ.
For women were His loyal followers, His devoted friends, who saw in Him their tactful advocate and courageous protector. Christ’s attitude toward women is just one of the beautiful and consoling things in His character.
We falsify our picture of Christ by talking or writing as if He shunned or positively disliked women.
A World Cruel to Women
What makes His attitude the more notable is its contrast with the attitude toward women that prevailed when He came into the world. The world had been a sad place for women. Pagan slave markets were full of them, and their price was graded to their physical charm or the breadth of their backs for carrying burdens.
They got their value from their ability to please the eye or serve the whim of man, the master. Rome and Greece talked much about their respect for good women, but they saw to it that the life of a good woman was almost that of a slave.
Woman was barred the larger life of her times unless, as was the case especially in the golden age of Greece, she bought liberty at the price of shame.
Courtesans made great places for themselves in public life; good women were almost prisoners in their homes. The lot of a Jewish woman was, of course, immeasurably higher; but even she was the servant, the inferior, whose fate was so completely in the hands of her master that custom had come to permit a husband to divorce her for the crime of an unsatisfactory breakfast.
A lower place in the temple, an inferior seat at table, the task of waiting hand and foot even on her own sons, was regarded as her unquestioned lot. If she fell by some sad fate a victim to man’s pursuing instincts and lost the innocence with which she might purchase dull respectability, there was not the slightest chance of her rising from the mud.
Pagan and Jew alike kept the fallen woman in the gutter. For her there was neither hope nor opportunity for repentance. Men made sin easy for her, but they were unforgiving once she had gratified their cruel passion.
Christ Comes to Womankind
Into this world so hard and merciless to women walked Jesus, with pity in His eyes for all womankind. Was it strange, when we come to think of it, that women should mean so much to Him?
There was only one person in the world to whom He, the God-Man, could properly be said to owe anything. That was the woman Mary, His mother. No human father had given Him what fathers give to the rest of mankind.
His whole body was given Him by His mother. We may be sure that His features were hers; if her hair curled back from her forehead, so, in all probability, did His; even His eyes took their color from hers.
She was His only human parent, and whatever resemblance He bore to any human being was the resemblance He bore to Mary.
During the formative years when He advanced in age, wisdom, and grace, it was intimacy with a woman which shaped His human characteristics. Her voice was the first He heard, and from it He caught, as children always do, her little tricks of speech.
She taught Him all the dear things that Only a mother can teach a son and that put
upon a boy the seal of a mother’s personality. By her side He experienced sorrow, exile, joy, peace, every human emotion.
Naturally His human heart, feeling the burden of His debt to Mary, must have been tender to the whole race of women.
His Debt to a Woman
If Jesus may be said to owe anything to anyone, then surely he owes all to a woman. She paid dearly for the privilege of being his mother. Because she accepted that tremendous responsibility, she experienced the stable and exile in a foreign land.
She gave Him through the years of childhood the patient care with which a mother wraps round her little one. She trained the growing Boy, tasted the poverty that He chose for His lot, the long, tedious separation of His public life, the agony on Calvary.
No woman but can lift her head in proud joy when she remembers that one of her sex gave to the God-Man all that humanly went into the molding of His man’s nature.
And Jesus, who repaid all debts a hundredfold, seems to have repaid his debt to Mary in the kindness and gentleness He showed to all her sisters, the women of the human race.
Perhaps, in addition, Christ brought to earth something of that yearning, almost motherly, with which God regarded His chosen people.
“Can a woman forget her infant, so as not to have pity on the son of her womb?” Isaiah 19:15.
Certainly there was an exquisite tenderness in the tears which He shared over Jerusalem as he compared himself to the mother hen longing to gather her chickens under her wing, and there is a gentleness in His parable of the lost sheep, the prodigal son, and the Good Samaritan.
The son of Mary never forgot that the first and great influence in his life was the influence of His mother, and He brought to every woman that tenderness and gentleness which every good son of every good mother feels toward womankind.
His treatment of them is part payment of His debt to his mother.
“The bone-dry definitions in the catechism are as essential as the recipe for the cake, but if we put them together with imagination and enthusiasm, and add love and experience, then set them afire with the teaching of Christ, His stories, His life, the Old Testament as well as the New, and the lives of the saints, we can make the study of catechism a tremendous adventure.” -Mary Reed Newland, http://amzn.to/2wSJI3wBlessed Mother Graceful Religious Earring Sets…Handcrafted, Hypoallergenic. Available here.
Drawing on the experience of dozens of saints, Fr. Plus explains sure ways we can recollect ourselves before prayer so that once we begin to pray, our prayers will be richer and more productive; he teaches us how to practice interior silence habitually, even in the rush and noise of the world; and he explains each of the kinds of prayer and shows when we should and should not employ each.
We all pray, but few of us pray well. And although that’s troubling, few of us have found a spiritual director capable of leading us further along the path of prayer.
Fr. Raoul Plus, S.J., is such a director, and reading this little book about the four types of prayer will be for you like hearing the voice of the wise and gentle counsellor you long for but can’t find: one who knows your soul well and understands its needs.
This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for your support.