I have two friends whose names are both "John." Both are in their late 80s. And both had something to do, but in distinctly different ways, with a woman I love.
John #1 is a retired piano teacher and viola player who lived alone. I brought him Holy Communion most weekends.
One day John #1 told me: "You see our Blessed Mother who stands outside my front door? I don't know when I am going, but when that time comes, I don't want her to be just thrown in the dumpster by the next owner of this house. She has guarded my house for as long as I have lived here. If you can take care of her, I will give her to you." I noted that John uses "she, "her "and not "it "when referring to Mary's statue. This is significant. And I understood why.
A week later, my son Loy and I put the statue in his van, and we took it to my home. It was only the following Good Friday when we had the Seven Last Words Reflections in the church that the connection struck me: From the cross our Lord entrusted His mother to John, the beloved disciple saying: "Behold your Mother!" and "John took her into his home." In a way like John, the Beloved Disciple, John #1 entrusted his Mary statue to me, and I brought it to my home!
I built a shrine around the Blessed Mother's statue and planted flowering perennials and annuals that produced flowers all-year round. My granddaughter Leila helped me give it a new coat of white and blue paint. Now she often proudly says: "I helped Grampa repaint Mama Mary's statue."
John #2 is our grasscutter, who comes every two weeks. He is a cancer survivor who still works despite his advanced age. At times we shared our respective faiths in friendly conversation. He is a former Catholic.
Last year he accidentally cut with his weed whacker one vine of my clematis flower plant, and I told him about it.
Recently when the clematis was blooming again, I reminded him to be careful with his weed whacker near Mama Mary's shrine, and I added: "I love her." He commented: "But you should not pray to her."
I asked him why? He replied: "In the Bible, Jesus said to His mother: 'What is that to you and to me? My time has not yet come.' That was a rebuke to her."
I said: "But do you realize that in that same biblical account, the Lord Jesus performed His first miracle though He said His time had not yet come? Was that a rebuke to His mother?" He did not reply.
I added: "Why is it that we can say to one another: 'Pray for me,' but not to Mary whom Jesus loved?" I went on to emphasize to John #2 that we Catholics love Mary and honor her, but this is not the same as putting her on the same level as God. In the wedding at Cana, the newlyweds did not have to ask her for help. She brought their situation to Jesus and said to the waiters: "Do whatever He tells you."
I have two friends named John, but they regarded the mother of Jesus differently. John #1 loved Mary like the apostle John did. John #2 forgot that the Lord Jesus loves and honors His mother more than anyone of us can.
No child is right in not loving and honoring his/her mother. Jesus gave this example to us. We should follow Him! #
Note: This year is the 100th anniversary of Our Lady's apparitions in Fatima, Portugal. We celebrated it at St. Columba with Scripture readings on Mary's role in the history of our redemption with 8 Parish choirs singing hymns in her honor.