To be close to Christ is to be close to Mary.

Think, for a moment, about the fact that you have been “saved.” And what is your salvation?

Jesus has given his life to be your own, so that you have become a partaker of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). He has given you his home, heaven, so that you may live in it as your home, too. He has invited you to eat from his table and call his Father “Our Father.”

And he has given his mother to be your mother.

We cannot be Jesus’ brother unless Mary is our mother. The Church is the “assembly of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23), and she is mother of the firstborn.

The early Christians knew this, and they gloried in it. In the Gospels, Mary has one of the largest speaking parts. In spite of her lowliness, she is the star of the opening chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Her kinfolk, Elizabeth and Zechariah, appear; but their activity is directed toward Mary’s and resolved in Mary’s. An angel appears, but he is sent to serve Mary. Joseph says not a word in the entire New Testament, but places himself at the service of Mary and the divine Child.

When John depicts the birth of Jesus symbolically in the Book of Revelation (chapter 12), once again Mary appears at the center of the drama. She is the woman who gives birth to the “male child” who is the king of all nations. Mother and Son face mortal danger and flee to the wilderness, just as we see in the infancy narratives of the Gospels. In the Apocalypse, however, we learn that the earthly events are actually a manifestation of the great cosmic war between St. Michael’s angelic forces and the serpent’s.

The woman is there, in Revelation, for the sake of her divine Son, but his presence providentially depends upon her cooperation.

The “woman” of Revelation is clearly Mary, and yet she is also the Church, the mother of “many offspring.” This is not a contradiction. It’s the way the biblical peoples thought and expressed themselves. “Israel” was a man, a historical figure, but it was also the name of the man’s offspring and their nation. In the same way, the name “David” designated Israel’s great king, but also his capital city, his household, and his descendants.

Thus, the early Church Fathers, having fed themselves on Scripture, could say such things as, “We call the Church by the name of Mary, for she deserves a double name.” So said St. Ephrem of Syria in the fourth century.

Almost two centuries earlier, St. Irenaeus had used the same maternal imagery in a poetic way, when he described Jesus as “the pure One opening purely that pure womb which regenerates men unto God, and which he himself made pure.”

The Blessed Virgin Mary is already what you and I are ever striving to be. May is a month especially dedicated to her. Let’s spend it close to her, and thus close to her divine Son.