"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

Mary Is God's Here And Now

have a personal title for our Blessed Mother—'Our Lady of the Here and Now of God'. This personal title was borne of my ministry of accompanying several of my retreatants through the years. Mary has been the greatest if not the only guide and companion to tag along if we would like to get closer to Jesus. Closeness to Jesus is closeness to his mother. I also admit that I have been partly influenced by my fellow community member Fr Shogo Sumita SJ, a Japanese, who constantly uses the here and now (ima kokoni) theme to drive home an important point. We can give to Mary this sublime title without neglecting God who is the only one of course who is present in every here and now. God alone is the Creator of all here and now. But for God's plan to succeed, there has to be Mary—who will always be God's here and now.

Many times our focus is just on the big events. We have forgotten that, first, Mary had to grow into her role as mother to Jesus and wife to Joseph. These are just among the many here and now events during Jesus's growing up years. If we would like to get close to Jesus we must first get a familiarity with the here and now from Jesus's conception in his mother's womb, to his birth, to his passion, death and resurrection. This kind of familiarity and closeness to God belongs to Mary alone. Sure we can always go directly to Jesus for who in this world could possibly get in the way if it is God who is already at our side? But there is an express train or a bullet train to the heart of God, that is no less than Mary. She has been compared to the neck of the hourglass through which the graces from heaven pass (Edward Yarnold SJ, A Do It Yourself Retreat). St Bernard of Clairvaux (1153) compares Mary to a Great Aqueduct that floods the earth with grace.

Second point. Here and now connotes a slow process or movement. Things did not happen instantaneously during the annunciation. There is more to it than meets the eye. Mary, too, as a human being like us, had to think slowly, step by step. At each point she looked around to see for herself the sign posts of where God was trying to lead her. Thinking slowly does not mean one is slow. No. The first verse of Elvis Presley's song "Can't Help Falling In Love" says “Wise men say, only fools rush in.” So there we have it; those who rush in are the foolish ones. That is not like Mary at all. This is even backed by Proverbs 17:28 which says “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.”

Mary’s fiat (be it done) to God’s plan was not predetermined or push-button. If we look at Mary this way, we do not only disrespect the Blessed Mother, we disrespect God who formed and accorded Mary her integrity and freedom. Her life was filled with decisions she had to make daily, righteously, consistently and responsibly. Like any ordinary person, she had to deal with doses of normal life struggles and their immediate implications. Twice in identical words, Luke’s gospel points to the here and now of Mary as she “kept the words in her heart” (Lk 2:19; Lk 2:51). Mary, in a very unique way, pondered an entirely new side of God being revealed through her own son Jesus. Of all human beings, only Mary had the privilege of watching Jesus grow “in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man” (Lk 2:52; 2:40) in the daily here and now. Jesus would not be able to grow in wisdom and in stature without the favor of man or woman. When Jesus became man, it was not just the favor of God that was at work, it was equally the favor of Mary, through her fiat, her free acceptance. Mary made it her own and accepted to be responsible for Jesus. Joseph took responsibility also the moment he accepted Mary and the child. This was Joseph's unspoken fiat.

Mary underwent a sort of discernment no matter the length of time and God allowed her to go through that. Think of a flower that God too needed to wait until it has bloomed. This is an important point of view when we contemplate each mystery in Mary's life because it brings to the fore Mary’s integrity and freedom. To me this is the meaning of the dogma of Mary's virginity. It is more about her integrity as an individual, like you and me. God could not have forced Godself into her life. God respected her integrity and freedom. Mary's fiat (be it done) was not forced, which usually happens during arranged marriages. Mary went through a decision-making process aka the balancing act. To delay one's fiat does not diminish one's faith and fervor. It could even increase it much more all because of the freedom element. When a penitent confesses to a sin of considerable gravity, a priest looks at the person's freedom when he or she acted on it. If there was less freedom it means less willfulness to commit the sin. When the penitent realizes that he or she was not free, then the guilt feeling is alleviated or made less severe. It works the same way when we are trying to follow God's will. Is there a freedom element or none? Did I give my whole heart and consent to following God or was I just dragging my feet?

Third and final point. I may be not the only one who came across the question, why do we still need to go to Mary before Jesus? Why not go directly to Jesus? I have also asked the same question not only once and one time I stumbled upon the response that St Maximillian Kolbe, a Franciscan, gave. I quote, "Do not be afraid of loving Mary too much, you will not be able to love her as Jesus did." When Jesus loves his own mother, it is to acknowledge and thank her for everything that she has done and has sacrificed for the plan of his Father to succeed. If we love Mary, we are following Jesus's way. We too are acknowledging and thanking her for everything that she has done and sacrificed to give us her Son, Jesu, Joy of man's desiring.

Let me end with a quote from Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, taken from his book about praying with icons of the Virgin Mary and infant Christ entitled “Ponder These Things.” I quote, “It is not only that we cannot understand Mary without seeing her as pointing to Christ: we cannot understand Christ without seeing his attention to Mary... Jesus does not appear to us as a solitary monarch, enthroned afar off, but as someone whose being and loving is always engaged, already directed toward humanity.” Amen Fr JM Manzano SJ


  1. Thank you for the beautiful sharing 😇
    I ❤ the last point of your sharing for it affirms my own experience with Mama Mary. Instead of needing to provide a present for the birthday celebrant today, Mama Mary gave me the valuable gift of an experience with Jesus through Her. She becomes a constant reward in my desire of Jesus.
    Loved and Prayers 😇

    1. Thank you for your wonderful sharing! You are a delight to Mary and our God! GBU!

  2. Thanks po, Fr. JM for your sharing on this very special day of the Nativity of Mary... I remembered suddenly a particular excerpt (I paraphrased) on the book I used for my personal retreat, A Do-it-yourself Retreat, 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael Gaitely, MIC.

    It was when during one of St. Maximilian's spiritual conferences to the Novices he asked "How to become a saint?" He said that Sanctity isn't so hard. It is a result of a simple equation: "W+w=S". The capital W stands for God's Will. The small w stands for our wills. When the two wills are united, they equal to Sanctity. He urged more than 600 friars to become soldier saints of God under the generalship of Mary Immaculate. Why under Mary Immaculate? Because, among creatures, she alone does the Will of God perfectly. Therefore, when our wills are united with hers, they're necessarily united to God's will...

    Happy Birthday po also to you, Fr. JM... May Mother Mary, protect and keep you always in her loving embrace... I do believe that our closeness to Mary is our strongest weapon in fighting every temptation and difficulty and that will make us more faithful in our vocation... Grab her hand always... Never let her go...

    God bless you always! TC


    1. I am so grateful to you for the exerpt on the life of St Maximillian! May all our wills be like Mary's! GBU!


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