Why Does She Love Us?

By Marian Friedrichs

In the 2017 film "Wonder," Isabel Pullman (Julia Roberts) watches her 10-year-old son, August (Jacob Tremblay), walk into school for his first day. It is not only Auggie's first day of fifth grade. This is Auggie's first day of school, ever. Born with a genetic abnormality, Auggie was homeschooled during his early childhood because of frequent hospitalizations. Eventually, multiple surgeries enabled Auggie to breathe and eat on his own, but they could not entirely correct his facial deformities. Now, as Isabel watches Auggie disappear into a sea of middle school students, she leans against her husband and whispers an anxious prayer: "Dear God, please let them be nice to him."

If, on that scary first day of school, Isabel had witnessed the students suddenly turn on Auggie, mercilessly taunting, attacking, and beating him, we know what she would have done. She would have run to him. She would have stood between her boy and the mob, concerned exclusively with protecting him. She would've rushed him safely home, probably never bringing him back to that school or any other. It is all but impossible to imagine that Isabel would have devoted her entire self, forever, to serving and loving her son's attackers as if each of them were her child, too.

We Catholics believe that Mary is our spiritual mother and she loves us, but we may not often consider the marvel of that truth. Why does she love us? After all, why should she?

A mother's worst suffering comes in watching her child suffer. If a child is in pain, it would be an actual relief to the mother to take on that pain herself if she could set her child free of it. A mother will do almost anything to protect her child. If that crowd had tried to lay hands on Auggie, Isabel would've stood against them to her last breath. The crowd did lay hands on Jesus. Mary stood beside Him to His last breath, praying with Him for mercy on His killers.

At the foot of the Cross, Mary suffered not only as a mother, but as a lover of virtue. Loving her Son, loving justice and gentleness and compassion, she stood and watched as God Himself was condemned and savagely tortured to death by His own creatures. In the end, Mary accepted John and the rest of us sinners as her own children while the life of Her own perfect Son slipped away in agony.

Why does she love us? Because, we might say, our salvation gives meaning to everything He went through, and after all, she did see Him alive again. True, but even after His death and Resurrection, we still reject Him repeatedly. We are not "nice" to her Divine Son. We cling to our vices and to Satan's empty promises, giving Christ hardly a glance as we stride past a crucifix on our way to whatever we are pursuing instead of His friendship.

Well then, she loves us because her Son does, and parents can usually love those their children love. Yes, but it is very hard for a mother to love someone who mistreats her child, no matter how much the child loves that person. Watching a cherished son or daughter persistently offer love to an ungrateful friend will more likely rouse the parent's anger than tenderness toward that friend. And who among us truly values Jesus' love as we should?

So we must ask again: Why does she love us? Because of her Immaculate Heart.

What does that title mean? It means her heart is unstained by sin, we reply. Yes, but more than that. Mary's Heart is immaculate because it is uncluttered by self and fully available to God. She does not cherish indignation for the crimes committed daily against her Son because human indignation often springs from outraged pride, and she has none. Leaving to God His exclusive right to judge souls, Mary is free to open her Heart as a channel of His love alone.

Through the clear path of the mother's Heart, we can run confidently to the Son.

Addressing Jesus, St. Faustina wrote of Mary, "Through her, as through a pure crystal, Your mercy was passed on to us" (Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, 1746). Guided by the light shining through the Immaculate Heart, we inevitably reach the Source of that light: the Divine Mercy. To receive us there is His Heart's desire, and so her Heart desires nothing more.

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