Monday, May 21, 2018
The Feast of Mary, the Mother of the Church
Acts 1:12-14; John 19:25-34
What does it mean to say that Mary is the Mother of the Church?
It means that she was in the Upper Room when the apostles returned from the Ascension. She was there with them. She was waiting for them. She inspired them and guided them. She told them her stories.
It means that the Church is always trying to do what Mary does: say yes to the Spirit, allow the Spirit to come into us, humble ourselves before what we cannot understand.
It means that the Church is always living with contradiction, with paradox, as Mary did and Mary does: the life and the death of her son, the joy and the grief, Jesus the little boy and Jesus the son of God through whom the whole universe was created and is always being created.
Sumballo is the word that Luke uses in his infancy narratives when he says Mary “pondered” these things in her heart and “treasured” these things in her heart. Sumballo: to throw together, to juggle, to balance. To keep things up in the air.
The Church comes from Jesus and Jesus comes from Mary, from out of her body. Of course, she is the Mother of the Church.
Mary is always depicted reading a book when the angel comes to her: she is the figure of the reader, of the thinker, of the one who prays and reflects. So the Church reads, the Church thinks, the Church prays and reflects.
Mary wasn’t expecting the Angel but she welcomed him. We, too, have to be open to surprises.
Mary wasn’t expecting the Angel–she was confused–and so she asked questions. How can this be?
We should ask questions.
Mary obeyed. She said yes.
Adam blames Eve—and even God himself, indirectly—“the woman whom you put here with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” Eve blames the serpent. But Mary takes responsibility. She doesn’t hide, she doesn’t run away. She stands up.
Adam and Eve are ashamed to be naked, ashamed to be who they really are. Mary isn’t. She knows who she is and she accepts who she is and she knows she is loved by God for who she is, as we all are.
So the Church: we must be bold. We must be confident. Unashamed.
Mary came into the home of the disciple John, she became his mother, at her son’s command.
And she is our mother, too, and she comes into our homes—and so the Church isn’t patriarchal, whatever people say, it is framed by Mary, it takes her tone and her attitude, and it isn’t just stained glass and incense. It’s the kitchen and the kitchen sink. It’s the living room and the books in the living room and the pictures on the wall.
It’s the world.
O Mary, Mother of the Church, we praise you and we thank you.
O Mary, Mother of the Church, we ask for your humility.
We ask for your alertness.
We ask for your ability to concentrate, to see,
to stay calm and stay focused, even when we don’t understand.
We ask for your gentleness and we ask for your strength.
We ask for your wisdom and your joy.
We ask to remember, as you always remember, as you call us to remember,
that your Son is the One Who Matters,
that all is grace and that this grace flows from Him,
that we must always look at Him, pay attention to Him,
that we must do whatever He tells us.
We ask your aid, O Lady,
to remember and to rejoice
that the rain falls and the sun shines
and the vines grow–
that water is always being turned into wine.