Husband & Wife Articles


Behold Your Mother

Mary’s love has no limits and works miracles

By Maryan Vander Woude

When I am pregnant – as I am now – two solemnities, in particular, affect me profoundly. The first is Christmas – the birth of Our Lord – and the second is the Feast of the Annunciation, which comes nine months earlier, on March 25. I’ve actually been pregnant several times for both of these solemnities, and each time my pregnancy has given me a greater awareness of what Our Lady must have experienced during these times.

Dan and Maryan gather their gang together, with one on the way.

Dan and Maryan gather their gang together, with one on the way.

Thomas Vander Woude, who died saving his son's life, is shown with two of his grandchildren.

Expecting to deliver soon, Maryan Vander Woude is shown at 32 weeks of pregnancy.

However, this year, as my little guy elbows my insides and kicks my lungs, I’ve been thinking more about our unborn Lord inside Our Lady. Previously, I really hadn’t given much thought about him inside her; I mostly contemplated how she felt being pregnant with him. However, it occurs to me that our unborn Lord deserves quite a bit of attention.

Out of all the different means that he could have chosen to redeem mankind, our God chose the humblest means. And I’m not just talking about the humility of death on the Cross, but right from the beginning of his entrance into time, Our Lord chose the humblest means of achieving our redemption. On this feast of the Annunciation, we celebrate how Our Lady’s “yes” directly led to Our Lord, the second Person of the Holy Trinity, God Divine, becoming flesh, and living for nine months inside the womb of Our Blessed Mother.

As my womb grows bigger and bigger in these final weeks of pregnancy, the thought of Jesus, the God-Man, growing inside Our Lady blows my mind. It almost seems inconceivable, no pun intended! God “trapped” inside Our Blessed Mother? Something doesn’t seem right.

In his book The Lord, Father Romano Guardini sums up and solves my intellectual dilemma beautifully. He talks about how the human intellect can’t understand or grasp the concept of God becoming flesh and dwelling in such a humble setting.

“Before such an unheard of thought the intellect bogs down. Once at this point a friend gave me a clue that helped my understanding more than any measure of bare reason. He said: ‘But love does such things!’”

Love does such things! It’s the only answer that makes sense. “God so loved the world” that his only Son came down and dwelled inside a humble maiden. Albeit, Our Lady was a pure vessel and full of grace, but nevertheless inside her womb was a very humble situation. Moreover, living inside the womb is not Our Lord’s only act of humble submission. Entrusting and submitting to Our Lady was a way of life for Our Lord for 30 years in Nazareth. In fact, submission to her request is even the start of his ministry at the Wedding Feast of Cana.

Love does such things.

We know lovers will go to the most humble means to show the beloved that they are loved. In fact, if the lover doesn’t humiliate himself, we question his love. For example, we expect that courting couples will travel miles and endure hardships to be together. Husbands and wives should sacrifice the freedom of their single life out of love for their new married life. We expect that parents will stay up all night for a sick child because love does such things.

The example of the parent seems to be most like Our Lord’s relationship to us. Notice in that example that the parent not only demonstrates to the child “I love you so much that I will stay here and hold you,” but also in that same action demonstrates to the child how to love. Likewise, it seems clear that Our Lord continually submitted himself to Our Lady in humility to show us the depth of his love, but was also trying to teach us something else.

Pope John Paul II believed Our Lord was showing us that the easiest way to know and love God was through entrusting yourself completely to Mary. In his encyclical Remptoris Mater, he observed that “through Mary” is a constant thread in Our Lord’s life: God came into the world through Mary; he started his ministry through Mary’s request; and even at the Cross his last words were to entrust his Beloved Disciple to her: “Behold, your Mother.” The Pope stated that with these last words, Our Lord established Our Lady as our spiritual mother who will always lead us back to him.

On this feast of the Annunciation, this pregnant woman is going to meditate not only about how Our Lord came into this world through Mary, but also that he lived his life entrusted to her, began his ministry through her, and at his death entrusted his beloved disciple (who really is each and every one of us) to Mary. And Our Blessed Mother in turn will bring us to him, because love does such things.

Maryan Vander Woude, wife to Dan and mom of seven children (one unborn), blogs about their adventures at A Lee in the Woudes.