John 19:26-27 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, you mother.” And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
The Church points to these verses to teach us that Jesus left his mother Mary to be our mother as well. We all have a human mother, the one who gives us birth, but we also have a mother in heaven who loves us and watches over us just as our mother on earth does during her lifetime.
I have been and still am a mother, I have had a wonderful, loving earthly mother. There are other women, not my mother, who have mothered me on those days when I was desperately in need of their kindness and care. And I have grown to accept that I have another mother in heaven, Jesus’ own mother, Mary, who watches over me as well.
The Church also teaches us that Mary is a queen. When we pray the Glorious mysteries of the rosary, the very last Glorious mystery is the crowning of Mary as Queen of Heaven. That mystery has been difficult for me to understand and to imagine as I pray the rosary.
I cannot picture in my mind’s eye what a crown in heaven looks like – is it golden with jewels encircling the crown? Or is it a crown of twinkling stars? I want to see the ceremony and the clothes the Queen wears – are her clothes translucent and iridescent studded with pearls and glittering jewels? Are roses strewn in her path as she walks? I want to hear the music as the ceremony proceeds. Are angels singing and playing heavenly instruments? I want to see the angels who accompany the Queen. I want to see the King as He crowns the Queen. I cannot imagine any of it. I think that it all must be beyond my understanding.
Growing up in the United States the title “queen”, though familiar to me, is not a daily part of my life as a citizen of this country. Great Britain has a queen, Elizabeth, and there are many queens I have read about in history books. But what does it feel like to live “under a queen” as part of the government? What is the queen’s role? How do I relate to the queen and the queen’s work? How can I picture the queen’s daily life?
In Biblical times the queen in Israel was the “queen mother”, the mother of the current king. We see that most readily in the book of Kings. In Chapter two of the first book of Kings, after David’s death, Solomon, his son, is made king. Though the Bible doesn’t describe the crowning of Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, as Queen, we see her action on behalf of the Jewish people. A brother of Solomon, Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, approaches Bathsheba and asks her to intercede with King Solomon on his behalf. Adonijah says in 1 King verse 17, “Please ask King Solomon, who will not refuse you, to give me Abishag the Shunamite for my wife.” Bathsheba replies in the next verse that she will speak to the king. When Bathsheba approached the king, who was sitting on his throne, Solomon stood up to greet her. Then a throne was brought for Bathsheba and she sat next to the king on his right.
As we read these passages we can see the respect which the king, Solomon, has for the Queen – Solomon stands when Bathsheba enters the room and has a throne brought in for her. The Queen sits at the king’s right which is a place of high honor.
So I think it must be for Mary, the mother of Jesus. This is as the Church teaches. Mary is seated at the Lord’s right hand and intercedes for us with her Son – that is part of her role as Queen of heaven. Mary is honored by her Son. This is why we honor Mary. We ask for her intercession for us much as the Israelites did so long ago with their earthly queens. It is not worship, as Mary is not God, and only God may be worshipped. We venerate and respect Mary because her Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, has greatly honored her.