Thursday, July 16, 2015

To Love Jesus Like Mary

I was watching this week's The Journey Home program and Father Leo Patalinghug from Grace Before Meals was the guest.  I have never heard of him, but a priest who is a foodie and has a cooking show is something I definitely want to check out.  During the show Father Leo had a quote that really made me think.  He said "we should love Mary like Jesus" (I've heard that before).  But then he added "and we should love Jesus as much as His mother loves Him."

Hmmm, as a mom of mostly boys this quote was interesting.  What does it look like to love Jesus like Mary?  I grew up with one sister and no brothers so I wasn't the most qualified candidate to raise a family of boys.  Seriously, some days I'm not sure what God was thinking.  Over the years I've grown quite accustomed to all sorts of crisis situations (recently they had to do a search and rescue when one of the boys accidentally lost a tree frog in the house).  Blood no longer makes me queasy either.  Splinter removal has become an art form, as have my cooking skills.  Now there is a special place in my mother heart for each one of my little chaos tornadoes.  When I was newly married an incident happened that made me appreciate that fierce love a mother has for her son.

My mother-in-law is no stranger to raising boys, she gave birth to four of them and I married her oldest.  I was her first daughter-in-law and our relationship was rough in the beginning because it was such new territory for both of us.  She had come over that morning to babysit for Firstborn because Doug and I were both working full time.  Doug worked in the city and I had borrowed his car the night before to go to a meeting and didn't check the gas gauge.  He apparently didn't check it either and ran out of gas on the interstate about half-way between our house and his office.  Doug was none too happy about being stranded on the interstate and after he called a co-worker to bring him some gas he called me at the house to let me know just how unhappy he was about the situation.  We had a pretty heated argument discussion over the phone.  I was upset because I hadn't purposely used up all the gas in his car.  He knew I had used his car the night before, wasn't it his responsibility to check the tank?  Newlywed life is just bliss, isn't it?  I can look back and smile about it now but at the time I was angry enough to hang up on him and figured he deserved to be stranded on the road with that attitude.  (Very mature of me).  When his mom asked what happened and I told her she was upset and wanted me to drive her to where he was right that second to help him out.  Uh, no.  I'm not even talking to my husband right now and there's no way in you know what that I'm going to go help him.  Besides, I told her he already had a co-worker on his way with gas and I wasn't even sure exactly where he was located.  That answer was not going to fly with my now really upset in-law who was demanding I tell her where he was and SHE would go by herself (which would then leave me stranded at home with the baby until she returned).  Moot point, because I couldn't tell her where he was anyway.

There's a few lessons to be learned from this incident:

1.  It is never a good idea for a parent to come into an argument between a husband and wife.  Because eventually the spouses will make up but the damage done to the in-law relationship will take more time to heal.

2.  A mother's love for her son knows no bounds.  It is a fierce and protective love, kind of like a mother grizzly bear.  You don't mess with a mother grizzly bear.  Ever.  Nothing good will come of it.

Doug's coworker came to his rescue and I made it to work a bit late that morning.  My husband and I made up that evening but it would be three months before my MIL would speak to me again.  I just couldn't understand why she was so mad at me.  As I gave birth to more sons and those sons grew older I started to get it.  My MIL was adding more daughter-in-laws too as Doug's brothers married.  I was beginning to understand her better as I looked at her actions in relation to her love for her children.  When my boys were little she would watch some of their antics and tell me it reminded her of Doug and his brothers.  She taught me how to cook some of his favorite meals (probably because she was afraid he would starve with my cooking skills).  We frequently exchange recipes now.  I became a better wife as I worked at seeing Doug the way his mom saw him.  She saw him in his entirety and knew him better than anyone else.  I loved him, but I only knew him as a teenager and adult.  She had known him before he was even born.

When we love Jesus like Mary, it doesn't mean love Him in a "motherly" way.  It means love Him with that kind of intensity, with that all encompassing passion that she has for her son.  She carried Him, gave birth to Him, nursed Him and watched Jesus grow from a toddler to a strong man.  She loved Him all the way to the cross and beyond.  She knows Him better than any other human person and she wants us to love Him just as much as she does.  As we draw closer to her she can teach us how to love Him better, just like my mother-in-law taught me.  Mary was my biggest hurdle coming into the Catholic Church.  As a Protestant, I figured I didn't need her.  I already had a relationship with Jesus, why bring Mary into it?  But that would be like me saying I already loved my husband Doug, why get to know his mom?  Isn't my marriage, my relationship with Doug enough?  But I didn't just marry my husband, I also entered into his family.  We're part of Jesus' family, and his mom is a big part of that.  As I grew in my relationship with my MIL it transformed my marriage, it helped me to love my husband and kids better.  Mary can do the same thing for my relationship with Jesus if I allow her to lead me.

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