The question “Why should Christians venerate Mary when they have Jesus?” recently came up. Since this is a question we should all be prepared to answer, I thought I’d blog on it. There are SO many reasons, but allow me to name a few…
- Love, first and foremost. It’s this simple: the more we love Mary, the more we are able to love Jesus. It is impossible for love of the Mother to be competitive with the Son. Rather, love of the Mother leads to greater love for the Son. If we want to love Jesus as much as we possibly can, we need Mary (yes, need) because she can transform our hearts in ways we could never do on our own.
- Jesus gave her to us as Mother! “‘Woman, behold your son.’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ (John 19:26-27). Though specifically talking to St. John, this passage has been seen by the Church from the very beginning as being instructive to each and every disciple. Jesus knew firsthand her motherly love and wants us all to share in it because it will lead to a greater love for Him. How foolish we would be to turn away from His generous offer!
- Only Mary can teach us to be perfect disciples of Christ – because she is the only perfect disciple of Christ EVER. If we truly desire to become saints and to be the best possible disciples of Christ we can be, there is no better teacher.
- If we think about this on a practical, human level, what kind of son would not want his mother to be loved? What kind of son would say, “please stop paying so much attention and giving so much love to my mother”? No earthly son would do that and it’s silly to think that Jesus, the Perfect Son, would. He knows that we love Mary because she is His mother, and so by loving and honoring her, we love and glorify Him.
Ultimately we love Mary because she loves Christ, and can lead us closer to Him than we could manage on our own. Just as at Cana Mary told the servers to, “Do whatever He tells you”, (John 2:5) so today she continues to tell us the same while also helping us better understand what exactly He is telling us (which is often the trickiest part).
Perhaps this image will help. Imagine that the Christian life is like a huge mountain that we’re climbing. Jesus is at the top, and the higher up we go the closer to Him we get (literally and spiritually): the holier we become, the more we are conformed to Him, and the more we receive and reflect His love. It takes great effort to try and scale the mountain (and odds are we won’t reach the top before we die), but it is a worthy, consolation-filled path that all disciples must tread.
Now consider that this climb could be made easier by devotion to Our Lady. That by imitating her, and letting her teach us to love her Son the way she did/does, she comes down and helps us scale the mountain to a height we could never have reached alone, and helps us do it in record time. And when we reach this new peak, we are ever more in love with Mary, but primarily with Christ for giving us so great a Mother and such a direct path to Him. Better still, at this new height we can now love and serve Jesus is ways hither to unknown. (Which, mind you, was always the goal all 3 of us were working towards!)
Jesus gave us Mary so we could be ever more in love with Him – who could understand this and still turn away?