As we take a close look at the life of Mary, we can reflect on the fact that we may consider her the feminine face of God. She chose to love – through her fiat, through her life with Jesus, and through her motherhood to us all. The choices Mary made in her life did not give her an easy life. But she trusted God in faith that He would make everything her in life be meaningful and good.
The Scriptures and our lives set out five stages of motherhood. They are Conception, Pregnancy, Birth, Growth and Rearing, and Continuing Love. Mary underwent these five stages of motherhood, the same as we mothers do. In each stage she had to make choices.
God calls us to love as He did, as Mary did, in each stage of our own life journey. By looking to Mary, our Mother, and reflecting on her choices and her life, we can learn how to make better choices thus becoming more fruitful, contented, and fulfilled in our own lives.
Let us look at the 5 periods of Motherhood in relation to the Word of God and their relevance in our journey of womanhood and motherhood. In each stage we ask ourselves: “Am I, in my choices, reflecting God’s love and His plan for me? Am I being ‘Mary’ to my family and to others?” Remember that the choices we make in each stage will determine how fulfilled (or frustrated) we shall be in the next stage.
The Five Stages of Motherhood
Conception: Matthew 1:20-21. John 1:14.
Baptism is a kind of “conception” in the Holy Spirit. God calls us to his side to experience his love through family. In our early family life with our parents, we experience God’s love in the security of parental and family love and care, and in the guidance and learnings instilled in us during our early years. We can choose to accept this love and guidance, we can reject and rebel, or we can just coast along refusing to choose one way or the other. Mary had loving parents and accepted their guidance especially in matters of the faith; she entered into temple religious instruction at a very early age. Thus she was ready to receive God’s call to bear His Son.
Pregnancy: Luke 1:30-31. Luke 2:5.
Infilling of the Holy Spirit is called “pregnancy with the Holy Spirit”. We can liken this to the Sacrament of Confirmation and the resulting growth of our inner life, our spirituality. As we grow in the Spirit and in faith, we are able to discern our vocation. If our vocation is family and motherhood, we experience courtship and being able to discern the right partner in life. Mary followed the Angel’s guidance and the Spirit’s direction in the matter of accepting the right partner in life to enable her to follow God’s plans for her.
Birth: Luke 2:6-7. Galatians 4:4. Revelation 12:5.
As we grow in faith and the Spirit, apostolic works, works of mercy, caring and love for others give visible expression to the life of the Spirit in us. We give birth to the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). We begin to actively practice our faith as we celebrate the Sacrament of marriage (or Religious Vocation) and embark on the adventure of life in partnership with another. We see early signs of Mary’s caring heart in her visit to Elizabeth to be with her at the time of Elizabeth’s miraculous pregnancy. Mary believed and trusted in God as she chose to obey her husband Joseph to journey through the desert (and she was 8 months preggy at the time) to Bethlehem for the census.
Growth and Rearing: Luke 2:51-52.
The next stage is growing and rearing – our children in the family, the building of community, and being a nursery for nourishing and loving. We have children and raise them to be Christians. We look at our family as a “nursery” for babes in Christ. In our community, we participate joyfully in its activities because we understand that building community nourishes and strengthens the priestly, prophetic and kingly functions of not only ourselves but all its members. We follow Mary’s example in this stage of motherhood. Mary loved, observed, guided, and accepted Jesus for what/who he was; she kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. Mary and Joseph made sure that the religious ceremonies of those times were observed – Jesus’ presentation at the temple as a baby, and his going with them up to Jerusalem for other festivals, even once staying behind to discourse with the priests. Mary went with Jesus during his travels, too, as He began his ministry.
Continuing Love: John 13:1. John 19:26-27.
This final stage of motherhood is seen in our growth in Christian commitment and unconditional love, in our maturing stewardship, and in our reaching out to others. We continue to enable our children in becoming responsible Christian adults. We delight in being an anchor of love not only for our nuclear family, but also for our extended family. We reach out to others in love through our community, our parish, and our neighbors and friends. Again, our model in continuing love is Mama Mary. She accompanied her son Jesus on his journeys, caring not only for his needs but for the needs of his apostles. Even after his Passion and Death on the cross, she retired to the Upper Room with his followers. She was an encourager, a staunch, committed believer in God’s goodness, an anchor of unconditional love for Jesus’ followers in the turbulent days that followed His death and resurrection.
Our Challenge as Women of Faith, as Mothers
Each one of us, as women, goes through these five stages of life, of motherhood. In each period we relate to the Word of God with our bodies, our minds, our emotions, and with our spirits. In each stage we have to make choices: whether to do this or that, whether to love or not, whether to follow the Spirit’s leading or not; whether to be joyful about or distrustful of the work of the Spirit in our lives. We can choose to nourish and guide our children or leave them to the yayas, school teachers, and barkadas. We can choose to love unconditionally or burden our love with conditions and guilt feelings.
The choices we make in each stage of our lives will affect the next stage and the stages after that. In other words, who and what we are now, at present, is the result and reflection of our earlier choices in life. The good news is that as we allow the Spirit to work in our lives, our ability to make better choices is enhanced. The choices we make today will give us better tomorrows. Today, then, becomes the first day of the rest of our life!
Mary heard and responded in faith to God’s call to love in each of the five stages of motherhood. God is calling us to LOVE as He did, as Mary did, in each stage of our own life journey.
This is our challenge – to answer God’s call to love and, with Mary as our model, be Mary to others throughout our womanhood.