Mary, Mother of the Church

Scripture Readings: Gen 3:9-15, 20;  Jn 19:25-34

Pope Paul VI, in 1964, officially assigned to Mary the title “Mother of the Church” during the Second Vatican Council. The memorial Mass of Mary, Mother of the Church was later introduced by Pope Francis. He asked that it be celebrated yearly on the Monday after Pentecost to foster Marian devotion and encourage the maternal sense of the church.

What is that “maternal” sense? A mother gives life and nourishes it with kindness.  What we most remember about a mother is that she cares. That is important to us. This is a good day to reflect on the importance of what we, as Church, care about.

We care when something (or someone) has importance to us, i.e. when it makes a difference. What we care about thus becomes an intention. An intention is what we strive for. What we care about most becomes the dominant intention of our lives; all other intentions must be harmonized with it. It becomes what one does with himself. We become devoted to it.

What we have just said about our own experience of caring can be applied to Mary as mother of the church. She is a woman of the heart. Just as she was mother of the physical body of Christ, so is she of His mystical body…and that is us. This means each and all of us are important to her, that, after the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we thus are her dominant intention harmonized with the Trinity. And it means that she is devoted to our eternal, spiritual well-being. The church—its personnel—must pass these qualities on to others. We must manifest this caring.

What we as Church find important, care about, and strive for most is “the Father and the one whom He sent, Jesus Christ”; and their Holy Spirit which has been given to us. In yesterdays reading from Acts it was impressed upon us that this mission is given to a variety of people with different languages and values, different ethical codes, and different gifts. We are charged with passing this on to a diversity of peoples. What will unite us?

What we have learned over the last 90 days is that we can either unite around a scapegoat as was done on Good Friday, or we can unite around the Risen Christ. Both give peace. Jesus told us that there is a Holy Spirit and it matters when He said, “My peace I give you, my peace I leave to you; not as the world gives it do I give it. Do not be troubled or afraid…” The peace the world gives is from finding someone to blame. It is fleeting. The peace of Christ is His Spirit; it is freedom from self pre-occupation. It is pervasive, enduring, and deep. Like Him, we will have to inconvenience ourselves to posses it. Mother can help.