The World's First Love by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Part 15.

CHAPTER 5 All Mothers Are Alike Save One

No mother whose son has won distinction for himself, either in a profession or in the field of battle, believes that the respect paid her for being his mother detracts from the honor or dignity which is paid her son. Why, then, do some minds think that any reverence paid to the Mother of Jesus detracts from His Power and Divinity? We know the false rejoinder of those who say that Catholics "adore" Mary or make her a "goddess," but that is a lie. Since no reader of these pages would be guilty of such nonsense, it shall be ignored.

Where does this coldness, forgetfulness, and, at the least, indifference to the Blessed Mother start? From a failure to realize that her Son, Jesus, is the Eternal Son of God. The moment I put Our Divine Lord on the same level with Julius Caesar or Karl Marx, with Buddha or Charles Darwin, that is, as a mere man among men, then the thought of special reverence to His Mother as different from our mothers becomes positively repellent. Each famous man has his mother, too. Each person can say: "I have my mother, and mine is as good or better than yours." That is why little is written of the mothers of any great men because each mother was considered the best mother by her son. No one mother of a mortal is entitled to more love than any other mother. Therefore no sons and daughters should be required to single out someone else's mother as the Mother of mothers.

Our Lord described John the Baptist as "the greatest man ever born of woman." Suppose that a cult were started to honor his mother Elizabeth as superior to any other mother? Who among us would not rebel against it as excessive? Everything the critics would say of such exaggeration would be well taken, for the simple reason that John the Baptist is only a man. If Our Lord is just another man, or another ethical reformer, or another sociologist, then we share, even with the most bigoted, the resentment against thinking that the Mother of Jesus is different from any other mother.

The Fourth Commandment says: "Honor thy father and thy mother." It says nothing about honoring Gandhi's mother or Napoleon's father. But the Commandment to honor our father does not preclude adoring the Heavenly Father. If the Heavenly Father sends His Divine Son to this earth, then the Commandment to honor our earthly mother does not preclude venerating the Mother of the Son of God.

If Mary were only the Mother of another man, then she could not also be our mother, because the ties of the flesh are too exclusive. Flesh allows only one mother. The step between a mother and a stepmother is long, and few there are who can make it. But Spirit allows another mother. Since Mary is the Mother of God, then she can be the Mother of everyone whom Christ redeemed.

The key to understanding Mary is this: We do not start with Mary. We start with Christ, the Son of the Living God! The less we think of Him, the less we think of her; the more we think of Him, the more we think of her; the more we adore His Divinity, the more we venerate her Motherhood; the less we adore His Divinity, the less reason we have for respecting her. We could even resent hearing her name, if we had become so perverse as not to believe in Christ the Son of God. Never will it be found that anyone who really loves Our Lord as a Divine Saviour dislikes Mary. Those who dislike any devotion to Mary are those who deny His Divinity, or who find fault with Our Lord because of what He says about Hell, divorce, and Judgment.

It is on account of Our Divine Lord that Mary receives special attention, and not on account of herself. Left to herself, her motherhood would dissolve into humanity. But when seen in the light of His Divinity, she becomes unique. Our Lord is God Who became Man. Never before or since did Eternity become time in a woman, nor did Omnipotence take on the bonds of flesh in a maid. It is her Son who makes her Motherhood different.

A Catholic boy from a parochial school was telling a University professor who lived next door about the Blessed Mother. The professor scoffed at the boy, saying: "But there is no difference between her and my mother" The boy answered: "That's what you say, but there's a heck of a lot of difference between the sons."

That is the answer. It is because Our Lord is so different from other sons that we set His Mother apart from all mothers. Because He had an Eternal Generation in the bosom of the Father as the Son of God, and a temporal generation in the womb of Mary as the Son of Man, His coming created a new set of relationships. She is not a private person; all other mothers are. We did not make her different; we found her different. We did not choose Mary; He did.

But why was there a Virgin Birth? Because Christ is the Son of God, we cannot be as indifferent to the circumstances of His Birth as we would be to the birth of the butcher or the baker. If Mary told the Apostles after Pentecost about His Virgin Birth, it must have made a difference; if the Apostles put it in their Creed and teaching, it must have made a difference. Once Christ is accepted as the Son of God, there is immediate interest not only in His prehistory, which John describes in the Prologue of his Gospel, but also in His history and particularly in His Birth.

Is the Virgin Birth fitting and becoming? The challenge to our faith in the Virgin Birth is not related by anyone ( except in the Jewish Talmud) to sinfulness on Mary's part. The challenge concerns the physical possibility of a miraculous process of life. By keeping His Mother absolutely stainless, He has prevented the doubts about His divine paternity from being such that they would wound her heart, her womanly heart. It is impossible for us to imagine or feel, even to a slight degree, the vast ocean of love of Christ for His Mother. Yet if even we were faced with the problem of keeping the miasmic breath of scandal from our own mothers, what would we not do? And is it therefore hard to believe that the omnipotent Son of God would do all in His power to protect His Own Mother? With this in mind, there are many conclusions apparent.