Our reflections on the beloved disciple have led us, perhaps unexpectedly, right to the heart of the meaning of Marian consecration, or, as John Paul II preferred to call it, “entrustment to Mary.” How so? Because the beloved disciple John is precisely the first person to entrust himself to Mary in this way…at the foot of the Cross of Jesus. This is not just our idea, but the explanation of the pope himself. Let’s read his words. Indeed, in this reflection, let us try to allow him to speak for himself, meditating on his own vision of what occurred at the foot of the Cross:

It can also be said that these same words [“Behold, your son”] fully show the reason for the Marian dimension of the life of Christ’s disciples. This is true not only of John, who at that hour stood at the foot of the Cross together with his Master’s Mother, but it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and at the same time he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual. The Redeemer entrusts Mary to John because he entrusts John to Mary. At the foot of the Cross there begins that special entrusting of humanity to the Mother of Christ, which in the history of the Church has been practiced and expressed in different ways. The same Apostle and Evangelist, after reporting the words addressed by Jesus on the Cross to his Mother and to himself, adds: “And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (Jn 19:27). This statement certainly means that the role of son was attributed to the disciple and that he assumed responsibility for the Mother of his beloved Master. And since Mary was given as a mother to him personally, the statement indicates, even though indirectly, everything expressed by the intimate relationship of a child with its mother. And all of this can be included in the word “entrusting.” Such entrusting is the response to a person’s love, and in particular to the love of a mother. (Redemptoris Mater, no. 45)

In other words, in the unique existence of the Apostle John, God commences the “entrustment” of all humanity into Mary’s maternal care, and, in turn, her intimate relationship with every disciple of Christ. Why does Christ inaugurate this movement of entrustment with one single individual—John—rather than explicitly offering Mary as the mother of all humanity? The pope gives us the reason for this too:

Of the essence of motherhood is the fact that it concerns the person. Motherhood always establishes a unique and unrepeatable relationship between two people: between mother and child and between child and mother. Even when the same woman is the mother of many children, her personal relationship with each one of them is of the very essence of motherhood. For each child is generated in a unique and unrepeatable way, and this is true both for the mother and for the child. Each child is surrounded in the same way by that maternal love on which are based the child’s development and coming to maturity as a human being.

It can be said that motherhood “in the order of grace” preserves the analogy with what “in the order of nature” characterizes the union between mother and child. In the light of this fact it becomes easier to understand why in Christ’s testament on Golgotha his Mother’s new motherhood is expressed in the singular, in reference to one man: “Behold your son.” (Ibid.)

Yes, though Mary is the mother of all, she is not the mother of a generic or anonymous multitude, but of each unique and precious child of God. From the heart of her filial and spousal intimacy with the Trinity, her heart is open to see, to love, and to welcome every human person. Indeed, this is her ardent desire: to enfold us in her own maternal love, revealing to us anew in this way the love that we first glimpsed as children, and indeed, to draw us still further, ever deeper into the immensity of the Trinity’s perfect Love which alone can satisfy the thirst of our hearts.

As John Paul II concludes: “For every Christian, for every human being, Mary is the one who first ‘believed,’ and precisely with her faith as Spouse and Mother she wishes to act upon all those who entrust themselves to her as her children. And it is well known that the more her children persevere and progress in this attitude, the nearer Mary leads them to the ‘unsearchable riches of Christ’ (Eph. 3:8)” (no. 46).

This immersion in the “unsearchable riches of Christ” through persevering and progressing in the attitude of childlike belonging to Mary…this is precisely what we have been saying in our previous reflections about the heart of holiness. But why did this entrustment to Mary occur at the foot of the Cross, and not somewhere else? Because it is precisely upon the Cross that Jesus manifests the full splendor of Divine Love, this Love that radiates through his total self-giving and pours forth from his opened Heart. This is the space in which the Wellspring unleashes its torrents right at the heart of the aridity of our world, and where the Light sends forth its rays in the midst of creation’s darkness.

Christ has drawn near to us through the Cross and he gives himself to us here in love. The mystery of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection did not happen once “merely in the past” in such a way that it is consigned to ancient history. Rather, these sacred events have an eternal significance—through which eternity poured forth into our world—and themselves have been taken up into the heart of eternity in order to be made present in each moment of time. This eternal significance is made especially present in the Church’s sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Indeed, the mystery of Calvary is made fully present at every Mass. When we kneel before the elevated Host and chalice, we are side by side with Mary and John at the foot of the Cross. When we receive Holy Communion, we are welcoming the healing and transforming gift that pours forth always from the Heart of the Crucified Redeemer.

And yet we are not only sharing in the mystery of the Passion—witnesses of Crucified Love that gives itself to the very end—but we are sharing already in the mystery of the Resurrection. This is because the One who comes to us and gives us his Body and Blood is not the mortal Christ, in the weak temporal existence he had before his Passion, but the Risen One whose entire being has been immersed in the fullness of the Trinity’s life, and who from this fullness is able to communicate himself freely to all. Yes, in rising from the tomb Jesus has “unified all the lines of contradiction” within his Risen Body; he has made all of the moments of his earthly life present in the heart of God’s eternity. And from this eternity he makes himself unceasingly present within the passing flow of our world. When we allow ourselves to be drawn to the space of his self-giving, therefore, eternity intersects with time, and we already taste the fullness of eternal life that awaits us at the end of time.

Mary simply wants to help us to abide here, at the heart of her own life, at the heart of the life of the Church, where the Paschal Mystery of Christ is unceasingly at work within the midst of creation. She wants to hold us in the shelter of her love, and thus to help us experience ever more deeply the enveloping Love of God. She wants to shelter and uphold us as we, too, accompany Christ on his passage from Holy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Here she wants to help us to drink from the Wellspring of Salvation which is Jesus’ Crucified Heart, and to let ourselves be encompassed within the enduring embrace of his Risen Body, which, sharing in the very universal proportions of the Trinity, cradles the entire universe within itself.

Reflection Questions:

Do I recognize and experience Mary’s unrepeatable maternal love for me, in my own unique existence? Or do I feel like an “anonymous” member of the mass of humanity?

What is my understanding and experience of the Paschal Mystery of Jesus’ Passion and Resurrection? How might I experience more deeply the light of Love pouring forth from the self-giving of Christ?