A reflection by Headmaster Matthew Hutchison

As a Catholic school in the Marist tradition we would often suggest that we see ‘Jesus through Mary’. I have never really understood this phase; it dates back to the early Church and forms the foundation of Marian spirituality. The phrase does not suggest you cannot see Jesus in the ordinariness of everyday life, rather it proposes that a devotion to Mary can lead us even closer to Jesus. It suggests we can see the humanity of Jesus in Mary’s example.

Mary’s faith allowed her to accept God’s plan for her as the mother of Jesus. It was not easy to respond with a ‘yes’ to the Angel’s invitation. I often reflect on what a courageous, resilient woman she must have been, to rise so gamely to the unique demands made of her. She was very young, some theologians suggest around 15, engaged to Joseph and was at risk of becoming an outcast within her Jewish community. Yet Mary still said yes and an ordinary life was made sacred by way of an invitation that she affirmed.

There is an unusual portrayal of Mary in the foyer of our Junior School, depicting her with dust on her feet, displaying the humanity of motherhood. Mary was still needed by the infant in the middle of the night, she bathed him, cleaned him and dressed him. She taught him to speak, to pray and watched him grow in his understanding and knowledge. We see her gentle guidance in Jesus’ formative years, and it was through Mary’s prompting that Jesus performed his first miracle at the wedding in Cana. Mary would have worked hard to make home a welcoming and loving place and would have held dreams and hopes for her son.

Pope Francis calls Mary the ‘mother of hope.’ At Jesus’ crucifixion, the Gospels record Mary as ‘standing by’. They say nothing of her response. She stood there, at the worst moment, at the cruellest moment, and she suffered with her son. She ‘stood by’.

This is such a powerful image of motherhood. Standing by, ever present, accompanying a child, refusing to abandon. Mary was simply there in the thickest darkness, ever present, a beautiful virtue of humanity.

This past Sunday, we celebrated Mothers’ Day. This is an important day to remember the role that our mother and mother-figures play in our lives. From aunts to grandmothers to friends, we all have many women in our lives who ‘stand by’ in times of need and times of joy. This is the humanity of Jesus, seen in Mary and our mothers.