Celebrating Mary, the Mother of the Church

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By  Rev. Fr. Abu

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“When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother’” (John 19:26-27)!

Every year, on the day immediately after Pentecost Sunday, the church celebrates a very special memorial called Mary, the Mother of the Church. Having completed the seven weeks of Easter, today is a day for us to pause a while and remember the special role of Mary in the course of the whole Easter festivities and in particular, to examine the full weight of the words Jesus spoke at the foot of the cross: “Behold, Your Mother.”

In our first reading today, we are reminded of the words God spoke after Adam and Eve had eaten from the forbidden tree. In cursing the serpent who tempted them, God said: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed.…” Who was God referring to as “the woman”? And what does God mean by her seed being at enmity with the seed of the serpent?

When we take out time to examine this first reading carefully, we cannot but reach the conclusion that the woman in question was not Eve but another kind of Eve; the new Eve who gave her consent to God in His plan to undo the mistake of the first Eve. This woman God speaks about in Genesis is Mary and her seed is Jesus. This is why satan tried all he could to stop Jesus, but suffered a final blow on the Cross of Calvary.

You see, when Jesus uttered those powerful words, He was not simply speaking to John as one person, Jesus was speaking to the entire Christian world. “Behold, Your Mother.” In that very hour, John took Mary to his own home. This singular act of John, the Beloved is the reason why the church holds Mary with such high esteem among the saints.

Mary holds the title of the Mother of the Church because she was present as a Mother throughout all the events that marked the beginnings of the church. When Jesus appeared to his disciples after rising from the dead, Mary was there. On the day of Pentecost, the day the church was born, Mary was there. Like a very responsible and caring mother, Mary has never abandoned the church. All the apostles addressed her as Mother and treated her with respect and dignity.

When we call Mary our mother, we do not worship her, rather simply give her the honour she rightly deserves. Just as John took her home upon hearing the words, “Behold Your Mother” we also take Mary home through our devotional practices. One may ask, does Mary deserve this title? What makes her the mother of the church? Who is a mother?

Indeed, Mary truly deserves this title because, like all mothers, she played and continues to play a sacrificial role in the upbringing of her children. This is a woman who risked everything in accepting to be a Mother even though she was still a virgin. She abandoned her plans and accepted to be used by God. This is a woman who was with Jesus throughout His hidden years of formation and remained with Him all through His public ministry. This is a woman who instigated Jesus’ very first public miracle for the good of the couple in Cana.

This is a woman who cares deeply for every Christian. Through Mary’s intercession, the church has recorded and continues to record countless testimonies. Mary has proven beyond every doubt that she is more than just an envelope, she is a woman we can talk to, a woman we can rely upon to help her talk to her Son, Jesus Christ who is the one mediator between God and Man (2nd Timothy 2:5). Mary does not drag the function of the mediator with Jesus, but as they say, blood is thick, Mary’s blood flows in Jesus. She is close to her son Jesus and she can surely help us talk to Him.