If you don’t understand why Catholics and Orthodox Christians reverence Jesus’ mother, this film can help.
Christians will be flocking to their local movie theaters this weekend, particularly to see the animated nativity story The Star. The film is a beautiful recounting of the months leading up to Christ’s birth — the journey of the Holy Family, and even the animals, as they embark to Bethlehem. The story engages the imagination and successfully focuses on key points of the Christmas story, and it gives us a beautiful portrait of Mary. Her role as the mother of our God and savior shines out, especially as an example for all Christian believers.
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As the film opens, we are introduced to the beginning of Jesus’ story — his conception in the womb following the Annunciation. Prior to the angelic encounter, though, Mary has a pan of matzah (unleavened bread) before her, when a cute mouse enters in and moves the pan of bread. Mary remarks that she has enough for herself and breaks off a small piece for the mouse. Later the mouse will declare to others Mary’s kindness and generosity.
It’s a small act, but it communicates Mary’s generosity, even to the tiniest of creatures. Imagine, if she is so generous towards a mouse, how much more is she to each one of us, especially in her role as prayerful intercessor and mediatrix of grace.
Throughout the film we follow a donkey given the name “Bo” by Mary. Bo unexpectedly arrives at the house of Joseph and Mary and presents himself to the couple with an injured leg. Mary’s compassion for this creature leads her to splinter his leg and help him on the road to recovery. Mary has compassion toward all of us, her children, who become injured along our journey of life. With a mother’s love she is there to aid in our healing.
Bo doesn’t know how to pray, but when he wants to go to God in prayer, he asks himself, “How did Mary do this?” He then tries to kneel and gives voice to a prayer.
Bo regards Mary as an example of how to pray and tries to imitate her. In our own Christian journey, Mary is an example for us not only because of her prayer, but because of the way she lived the virtues. We can look to Mary’s prayer, as found in the scriptures, as an example for us to model our own prayer: “May it be done to me according to your word,” and “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!”
Mary is our advocate
Joseph struggles with Bo and wants to get rid of him or abandon him. Yet, Mary is always there to defend him and try to convince Joseph of his immense value. As the Queen Mother, Mary reigns in heaven as Queen alongside her son, serving as our advocate, interceding, and pleading for us.
The Star is a faithful and entertaining retelling of the Nativity of Christ, but it also does a marvelous job of presenting Mary to all Christian believers. Perhaps this film, which depicts Mary’s shining example of faith, openness to the works and purposes of God, and compassion to all, will help all Christians learn to understand and appreciate the Mother of God, understand the role of Mary in salvation history with reverence, and desire to imitate her many virtues.