Jesus was a good Jew who obeyed the Law of Moses perfectly, and a key component of the Law is known as the Ten Commandments. The first commandment that deals with our relationships with others states, “Honor your Father and Mother.”
As a dutiful Jewish son who obeyed the law perfectly, Jesus fulfilled this commandment by honoring His Mother. The Hebrew word for “honor” actually means “glorify”. So, Jesus bestows glory on his mother, Mary.
We, as believers, are called to be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1). At the annunciation, the angel of the Lord called Mary “full of grace”. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God declares that “from now on all generations will call [Mary] blessed” (cf Luke 1:48). Consequently, we honor Jesus’ mother in our own generation. The Catholic Church was not the first to honor and glorify Mary; Jesus honored and glorified her first, and we simply imitate Jesus by doing the same.
Some might say, “Well, I obey the commandment when I honor my own mother and father, but I don’t need to honor someone else’s mother even if she was the mother of Jesus.” While this is true to one degree, it overlooks three important points on a deeper level.
First, as was already stated, “all generations will call [Mary] blessed”, and our own generation is called to bless and honor her, also.
Second, and more importantly, Mary was made the Mother of the Church by Christ Himself on Calvary. Consider the following passage from the Gospel of John:
“Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, "Here is your mother."From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:25-27)
While this passage is generally used as a proof of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary (Mary went to live with John because she had no other children to care for her after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension), it has also been used to illustrate that Mary was made the Mother of the Church since John (representing the Church) was made her son by Jesus. Therefore, like John, we who are members of the Church also look to Mary as our mother.
Finally, in the book of Hebrews we read:
“In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. He says, ‘I will declare your name to my brothers; in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.’” (Hebrews 2:10-12)
If Jesus is our brother, then in the same sense, Mary is our mother. Following our brother’s example, we honor her according to the commandment.
Thoughts and critiques welcomed.