Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
Two Sundays ago, we celebrated Mother’s Day, a day when we remembered all that our mothers have done for us to become the best we can be. Today’s feast is about our spiritual mother, Mary, who is the Mother of God and the Mother of the Church.
The first reading from Acts occurs after the Ascension where the Apostles and Mary are waiting for what is to come. They were likely still perplexed as to what their mission was and what were their next steps. This reading shows them all together in the same room where they celebrated the Last Supper and where they took refuge after the death of Jesus. They again are gathered in their safe place, praying together to wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
We know that Acts was possibly written in in Rome between 70 -90 C.E. The early Church was already growing and putting into motion the mission that Jesus Christ had given the Apostles. We also know that when women are mentioned in the Gospels, the Letters of Saint Paul and the Catholic Letters, that these women held an important place in the early Christian communities. It is no surprise then, that Mary is with the Apostles in the Upper Room supporting them and encouraging them in their mission.
In the Gospel of John, written between 90 -110 C.E., Mary is again mentioned at the foot of the cross watching her son suffer greatly and then die. She knew who Jesus was and she held great sorrow in her heart as she witnessed something so unimaginable. As he suffered, Jesus entrusted his mother to Saint John, saying, “Woman, behold, your son.” Then Jesus directed his disciple saying, “Behold, your mother.” Was this Jesus’ way of giving his mother to the Apostles as their own mother? We know that during the time of Jesus women did not have many rights and needed protection if there was not a husband or a son to care for them. Jesus offering Mary to Saint John to be taken care of is not unusual. Was the Gospel writer trying to also convey the role of Mary as the Mother of the Church?
Through the centuries Mary has been a model for all Christians. We have many devotions, prayers, and feast days that remind us of the ways in which Mary is not only the Mother of God and the Queen of Heaven, but also the Mother of the Church. Our spiritual mother is our guide for each of us and for the Church.
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.