Jesus left us the greatest treasure He had. He left us His Mother: "Woman, behold your son. Then he said to the disciple, 'Behold your mother'" (John 19:26-27).
Our Lady has taken and takes Her role as our Mother very seriously. She is the Help of Christians and is at our side to help us to live our Christian life faithfully. She encourages us in our difficulties and sorrows and is always ready to welcome us. We know this, and yet we often have difficulty going to Her. The devil manages to tempt us with a thousand excuses that, in reality, keep us away from having a filial relationship with Our Lady. This prevents us from going to, learning from and receiving from Her all the help and graces God wants to pour into us through Her. For this reason, the devil is determined to hinder our trust in Her.
One of his tactics is to make us think that Our Lady was never tempted and was freed from all temptation. The devil whispers, "Our Lady is so perfect that She can’t relate to you, She can’t understand or help you because She hasn’t gone through the tribulations that you go through... Since She wasn’t tempted because She was immaculate, She doesn’t understand you when you are suffering a temptation." This makes us think that She had it easier than us. That’s why She could be so good and not sin. Therefore, She cannot understand me. These thoughts are the devil’s trick, a temptation thrown at you to try to keep you away from such a good Mother—Mary—who is the help Jesus left us moments before dying on the cross. And they are simply not true. Throughout Her life Our Lady was strongly tempted, especially at the foot of the cross. More than anyone else, She understands the inner struggle to be faithful to God at all times.
Did you know that the devil had already faced an immaculate woman, Eve, and that he won? He made Eve distrust God. And he saw what a disaster that first sin caused in all of God's creation. The devil contemplated how many souls he managed to snatch away from God, how many had fallen into his seductions and now burn forever in hell. This is what Satan achieved when he succeeded in bringing about the fall of Eve, that immaculate woman. What would he achieve now if he succeeded in bringing about the fall of the new Immaculate woman? The devil might have thought, "Maybe I’ll succeed in stopping the redemption. Maybe I can succeed in making Christ fall." And for these reasons, during the whole life of the Virgin Mary, the devil was determined to make Her fall. But it was during the Passion of the Lord that the devil launched his fiercest attack against Her.
On the way to Calvary, Our Lady was probably tempted when She saw the ingratitude of the people her Son had helped. She saw how Her Son was delivered into the hands of the Jews and the Romans. Then She saw Him walk the streets of Jerusalem to Golgotha. Now where were all those people who had acclaimed Him as King just days before? Where were all the lepers, blind and paralyzed people Jesus healed? Where were those people who rejoiced to hear Jesus teach with such authority? It is very likely that the devil tempted Our Lady with harsh judgment towards those beneficiaries who now showed ingratitude, so that She would be filled with hatred towards them.
We, too, are tempted to criticize others, and to be filled with hatred. At times the enemy riddles us with thoughts like, "They’re ungrateful,” “I am always giving,” “He could do something, too," and we often point fingers and judge. Instead, the Lord teaches us a totally different way of acting (Luke 6:36-38):
"Be merciful as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Our Lady is our example. Before all the reproaches that the devil might have brought to Her head, She rejected them and wasn’t filled with hatred, bitterness or criticism. She was compassionate. She didn’t judge. She didn’t condemn. She forgave and gave Herself completely. She was a faithful follower of Her Son's teachings. She Herself did what She recommended to the servants at the wedding at Cana: "Do whatever He tells you." Moreover, in those moments of seeing Her Son suffer, She joined in Jesus' prayer: "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
To finish, here’s a quote by Pope St. Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Signum Magnum: "It is fitting, moreover, to bear in mind that Mary's eminent holiness was not only a singular gift of divine liberality: it was also the fruit of the continuous and generous correspondence of Her free will to the inner motions of the Holy Spirit."
The whisper of the devil telling you that Our Lady, because She was immaculate, had it easier and therefore could not understand you and inciting you not to go to Her is clearly a lie. Our Lady was tempted, but at all times She corresponded to God’s grace with Her free will. And this is where we so often falter. How often do we not correspond to God's grace, but rather allow ourselves to be carried away by the motions of the evil spirit! This is where Our Lady comes in, She is our help, our Mother and Teacher of virtues. Jesus has left Her to us as our Mother to help us. Let’s go to Her and learn how to live everything united to Her Son.
- By Sister Sara del Mar Martínez, SHM