How do I respond to someone who says that devotion to Mary takes the focus off of Jesus and detracts from our relationship with Him?
A devotion to Mary is certainly not detrimental to our relationship with Christ. In fact, Marian devotion both flows from and leads to a relationship with Him.
Marian devotion flows from a relationship with Christ in that, when we seek to love as Christ loved, we can’t help but love His mother! After all, Jesus himself was obedient to her (cf. Lk 2:51), and despite the agony of the Cross her care was at the forefront of His mind (cf. Jn 19:26-27). He performed His first miracle at least in part because of her request (cf. Jn 2:3-9). Jesus, who is Himself the fulfillment of the Law, undoubtedly fulfilled the command to “Honor your father and mother” to the fullest extent. The Book of Revelation tells us that Mary is our mother too:
Rev 2:17 Then the dragon was angry with the woman, and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.
If we are the offspring of the woman, and the woman is Mary, then Mary is our spiritual mother and we should honor her when we attempt to follow the 4th Commandment as Jesus did.
Marian devotion leads to a relationship with Christ because, as we seek to love as Mary loved, we can’t help but love her Son! Mary lives to bring Christ to the world. That was the result of her humble fiat. She is forever saying to us, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). She wants nothing more than for us to follow Christ. When we pray the Rosary, we are contemplating the events of Jesus’ life. At the center of the “Hail Mary” is the name of Jesus. She is an example to us of purity, humility, simplicity, obedience, and a lively faith in God. All nations shall call her blessed, but why? Because she is “the mother of my Lord” (Lk 1:43). Mary always points to Christ, and no one who has a true devotion to her would ever say that she stood in the way of her Son.
Now, some may scoff at us for devoting ourselves to someone who leads us to Jesus. “Too many mediators,” they say. But, how many of them can actually say that they came to know and love Christ without any help from anyone or anything? It simply does not work that way. Until we see God face to face in heaven, our relationship with God will always be mediated in some way. Thus, we should not be ashamed of the role that Mary plays in our lives. I say: love as Jesus loved. Love His mother.
Peace of Christ to you,
Nicholas Hardesty, WIMM Board Member
Director of Religious Education, Blessed Mother Catholic Church
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