As the Lutherans always ask us Catholics, “Why do you worship Mary?” We answer by saying that we don’t “worship Mary” but we can understand their confusion.
We are dumbfounded by this carrier of hope into our world. We are awestruck by this vessel which did not doubt but continued moving, as best she could, through this journey we call life. We are terrified that if we emulate her that we will get lost; never to find our way back to ourselves, that we will lose our identity forever.
What we forget is that this vessel of love we call Mary vividly illustrates for us who we are as Church. A Church that possesses the wisdom and humility of all that life is. The uniqueness of this life is that it is the fullness of life: human and divine. All the barriers that kept the divine from us are erased. All the curtains and divisions that separated us from God have been lifted. No longer a line between God and us, Mary shows us how it’s done.
We have a tendency, no matter what age we may be, to never lose a magical dimension to our religion. (Burying poor St. Joseph to sell your home, a constantly-said prayer to cure cancer?) We have a difficult time letting go of supernatural thinking and enchanting intrusions into our world by the divine.
“Harry Potter” and religion can, unfortunately, have a lot in common. The magic of Harry Potter marvels us as enemies are quickly destroyed, problems solved through magic potions and voodoo charms make people do what they would normally not do.
The magic of Mary begins and ends in simplicity. The magic of untying our knotted lives and uniting our lives with God’s is the naturalness of it all. We never considered it because it was too available to us. We don’t take it seriously because it’s too much a part of our ordinary lives. It can’t happen without thunderous sounds and ominous clouds, complete with rattling houses and dogs barking loudly at the strangeness of it all. Mary’s response is far too sparse.
There is nothing of magic in uncovering what lives within us, our whole lives. The only wonder we can comprehend is why it’s taken us so long to believe it and why it’s taken us so long to imitate the simplicity of Mary’s path. Scripture tells us that she “treasured many things in her heart,” as our memories can testify and also told us about a “sword that will pierce her heart” as any setback pierces ours.
Catholics don’t worship Mary but we do honor all of life’s events. All the events that are presented to us every day, in every situation, in each new and old face that we encounter. It is the plainness and straightforward, the humbling and uniting word that Mary hesitantly but willingly whispers back to the angel’s invitation about the birth of Jesus. Mary says, “Yes.” Holding her dead son, she may have thought, “No” but once again said, “Yes.”
We say “Yes.” We say “Yes” to the divine that lives within us.