By hearing the word of God and keeping it, the blessed Virgin shared in
Christís rejection and sufferings, and co-operated in his saving work
"Separation did not mean distance of heart, nor did it prevent
the Mother from spiritually following her Son ... as she had done during
Jesus' hidden life in Nazareth. Her faith in fact enabled her to grasp
the meaning of Jesus' words before and better than his disciples",
the Holy Father said at the General Audience of Wednesday, 12 March, as
he reflected on Mary's role in Jesus' public ministry. Here is a
translation of his catechesis, which was the 46th in the series on the
Blessed Mother and was given in Italian.
1. After recalling Mary's intervention at the wedding feast of Cana,
the Second Vatican Council emphasizes her participation in the public
life of Jesus: "In the course of her Son's preaching she received
the words whereby, in extolling a kingdom beyond the concerns and ties
of flesh and blood, he declared blessed those who heard and kept the
word of God (cf. Mk 3:35 par.; Lk 11: 27-28) as she was faithfully doing
(cf. Lk 2:19, 51)" (Lumen gentium, n. 58).
The beginning of Jesus' mission also meant separation from his
Mother, who did not always follow her son in his travels on the roads of
Palestine. Jesus deliberately chose separation from his Mother and from
family affection, as can be inferred from the conditions he gave his
disciples for following him and for dedicating themselves to proclaiming
Mary faithfully put Jesus' words into practice
Nevertheless, Mary sometimes heard her Son's preaching. We can assume
that she was present in the synagogue of Nazareth when Jesus, after
reading Isaiah's prophecy, commented on the text and applied it to
himself (cf. Lk 4:18-30). How much she must have suffered on that
occasion, after sharing the general amazement at "the gracious
words which proceeded out of his mouth" (Lk 4:22), as she observed
the harsh hostility of her fellow citizens who drove Jesus from the
synagogue and even tried to kill him! The drama of that moment is
evident in the words of the Evangelist Luke: "They rose up and put
him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their
city was built, that they might throw him down headlong. But passing
through the midst of them he went away" (4:29-30).
Realizing after this event that there would be other trials, Mary
confirmed and deepened her total obedience to the Father's will,
offering him her suffering as a mother and her loneliness.
2. According to the Gospels, Mary had the opportunity to hear her Son
on other occasions as well. First at Capernaum, where Jesus went after
the wedding feast of Cana, "with his mother and his brethren and
his disciples" (In 2:12). For the Passover, moreover, she was
probably able to follow him to the temple in Jerusalem, which Jesus
called his Father's house and for which he was consumed with zeal (cf.
Jn 2:16-17). Finding herself later among the crowd and not being able to
approach Jesus, she hears him replying to those who had told him that
she and their relatives had arrived: "My mother and my brethren are
those who hear the word of God and do it" (Lk 8:21).
With these words, Christ, although relativizing family ties, is
addressing great praise to his Mother by affirming a far loftier bond
with her. Indeed, in listening to her Son, Mary accepts all his words
and faithfully puts them into practice.
We can imagine that, although she did not follow Jesus on his
missionary journey, she was informed of her Son's apostolic activities,
lovingly and anxiously receiving news of his preaching from the lips of
those who had met him.
Separation did not mean distance of heart, nor did it prevent the
Mother from spiritually following her Son, from keeping and meditating
on his teaching as she had done during Jesus' hidden life in Nazareth.
Her faith in fact enabled her to grasp the meaning of Jesus' words
before and better than his disciples, who often did not understand his
teaching, especially the references to his future Passion (cf. Mt
16:21-23; Mk 9:32; Lk 9:45).
3. Following the events in her Son's life, Mary shared in his drama
of experiencing rejection from some of the chosen people. This rejection
first appeared during his visit to Nazareth and became more and more
obvious in the words and attitudes of the leaders of the people.
In this way the Blessed Virgin would often have come to know the
criticism, insults and threats directed at Jesus. In Nazareth too she
would have frequently been troubled by the disbelief of relatives and
acquaintances who would try to use Jesus (cf. Jn 7:2-5) or to stop his
mission (Mk 3:21).
Through this suffering borne with great dignity and hiddenness, Mary
shares the journey of her Son "to Jerusalem" (Lk 9:51) and,
more and more closely united with him in faith, hope and love, she
co-operates in salvation.
Mary is a model for those who accept Christ's words
4. The Blessed Virgin thus becomes a model for those who accept
Christ's words. Believing in the divine message since the Annunciation
and fully supporting the Person of the Son, she teaches us to listen to
the Saviour with trust, to discover in him the divine Word who
transforms and renews our life. Her experience also encourages us to
accept the trials and suffering that come from fidelity to Christ,
keeping our gaze fixed on the happiness Jesus promised those who listen
to him and keep his word.