Mary, Mother of God and our mother, is truly the model of mercy among the saints to begin our Year of Mercy. As the mother of the Son of God, she participates in and reveals the mercy of God by sharing most intimately in his becoming man in the Incarnation. God’s superabundant mercy is made know to us simply by the fact that he chose to empty himself, to become one of us, to share in our nature. Then, he goes a step further and chooses one of us, a creature, to be his mother. Mary’s fiat opens her up to receive, to participate in, and to share God’s mercy in many more ways – in her visitation to Elizabeth, in the birth of Jesus and the visit of the shepherds and the Magi, in the presentation of the Lord at the temple, at Cana, and most especially at the cross. She proclaims the mercy of God by her life and by her words, as she expresses her joy in praise of God and prophesying the promise extended to us, “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Luke 1:50). Mary’s union with the mercy of God continues through Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, the gift of his very life, in which he reveals and pours out upon us saving mercy beyond anything we could ask or imagine – what love He has shown us, what compassion, what forgiveness! At the foot of the cross, Mary gives us her Son, she suffers, she sacrifices, she loves, and she forgives: “Her sacrifice is a unique sharing in the revelation of mercy, that is, a sharing in the absolute fidelity of God to His own love … that was definitively fulfilled through the cross” (St. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 9). Mary abandons herself to the mercy of God always: “The Mother of the Crucified and Risen One has entered the sanctuary of divine mercy because she participated intimately in the mystery of His love” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 24). Further, she receives and responds to a call to be mother to us all: “Woman, behold your son! …Behold your mother!” (John 19:26-27). As her children, we turn to our beloved Mother of Mercy: “Let us address her in the words of the Salve Regina, a prayer ever ancient and ever new, so that she may never tire of turning her merciful eyes upon us, and make us worthy to contemplate the face of mercy, her Son Jesus” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 24).
Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiæ,
vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus exsules filii Hevæ,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
in hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra, illos tuos
misericordes oculos ad nos converte;
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
(Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send up our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.)