If you've studied Geography before, you'll probably have studied about Jesus and Mary.
What on earth am I talking about? (Hohoho, “earth,” get it...?) Well, here's a thought: God is like the sun, and Mary like the clouds.
The sun is the source of all the energy that gives rise to physical life on earth: if it were to vanish, the earth would become an ice ball, and humans would be popsicles. (Human-flavoured popsicles? Yuck!) The sun is the anchor which the Earth orbits around: without its gravitational pull, the Earth would be flung across space and sucked into the orbit of other gigantic stars, or worse still, a blackhole.
Sound like God? Left without the heat of God's love–also known as the Holy Spirit–that transforms our hearts of stone into flesh, we are left to wallow in our selfishness and inability to know, love and serve God and our neighbour. Without Him to orientate and place our lives in order, we gravitate towards and end up enslaved by addictions to our phones, the TV, social media, and even our own bodies, which many people worship with beauty products or by going to the gym.
At the same time, the same sun that gives life is the same sun that could burn us up. The people of the Old Testament were well aware that God is perfect justice, and believed that if they saw the face of God, they would surely die because of their sinfulness–a little like how a moth that flies too close to a candle flame causes its own death. For indeed, “if you, O Lord, should mark our guilt, who would survive?” (Psalm 130:3)
Then what ought we to do, if we, poor sinners, wish to approach the Sun of Justice? When we feel the blistering heat of the sun, we are always thankful for a passing cloud that shields us with its shadow. That is what Mary is for us, with Her merciful and maternal intercession and guidance which never fail to obtain blissful pardon from God. It is through clouds that the rain falls, just as through Mary's hands all the graces and merits of God are distributed. If she did not pour out these prayers and graces that God has chosen to give Her, our lives would be as dry as a desert, without the life-giving water that we need to continue in our journey towards Heaven. We simply would have no strength or life!
Yet without the sun, there can be no clouds, for the sun is necessary to cause liquid to change into vapour that rises and condenses to form clouds. Mary acknowledges her humble state before God, who has graced Her with everything because "He looks upon Her nothingness".
How can this little Geography-catechism lesson help us? As we enter into Lent, which the Gospels compare to a desert, we are led to examine our conscience and to come face to face with the reality of our lives–how it is our own sins of word, thought and deed, and even all our omissions, that have wounded our Jesus so greatly. Yet the merciful presence of our Blessed Mother is there to comfort us, even as She met St Peter after his denial of Jesus with eyes of mercy and not of contempt.
The same sun melts wax but hardens mud; the graces that God pours out can be wasted on us if we do not receive them with a humbled and contrite heart. This Lent, let us not sink into indifference or despair at the sight of our sin, but resolve to throw ourselves into the embrace of our Blessed Mother, begging Her to teach us her dispositions of docility and complete abandonment in the hands of God, that by Her side we may remain faithful to our crucified Lord, no matter how great the cross may be.