Monday, May 24, 2021

Maria, Mater Ecclesiae

Pope Francis recently established the Monday after Pentecost as a feast day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title of "Mother of the Church," a term which signifies especially the role entrusted to her by Jesus at the foot of the Cross, when he gave her to John the Beloved Disciple (and - with him - all of us) to be his mother (see John 19:25-27). It also points to the whole of the beautiful and gratuitous role Mary carries out in the history of salvation. 

As our Mother, she collaborates in a singular way with her Son Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh - a way, of course, that is entirely subordinated to His redeeming and transforming grace. Mary's universal motherhood is indeed a special gift of Christ's grace as He redeems us through His Incarnation and Paschal Mystery (which we have celebrated in these months), and as He continues to work in the Spirit to bring us to our fulfillment in the Kingdom of the Father, the New Creation. Mary's maternal tenderness extends to each of us and to the whole Church. Just as we find her gathered with the Apostles and all the other disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit is poured out at Pentecost, so we find her on every moment of our journey toward the fulfillment of our vocation. Mary's motherhood is supernatural yet also most profoundly human in the way it makes us brothers and sisters of her Son Jesus. She remains with us in her maternal tenderness and solicitude, and her advocacy of our total need for God's love, our total dependence, to which He responds with a miraculous superabundance (as we see at the wedding feast at Cana - cf John 2:1-12).

A summary of the scope of Mary's motherhood as a special sign and gift of the power of God's love is contained in today's liturgy, in the Preface to the Eucharistic Prayer for the Memorial of Mary, Mother of the Church: "Receiving your Word in her Immaculate Heart, she was found worthy to conceive him in her virgin's womb and, giving birth to the Creator, she nurtured the beginnings of the Church. Standing beside the Cross, she received the testament of divine love and took to herself as sons and daughters all those who by the Death of Christ are born to heavenly life. As the Apostles awaited the Spirit you had promised, she joined her supplication to the prayers of the disciples and so became the pattern of the Church at prayer. Raised to the glory of heaven, she accompanies your pilgrim Church with a mother's love and watches in kindness over the Church's homeward steps, until the Lord's Day shall come in glorious splendor."