Today the Church honors the name of Mary, a name responsive to the needs of the Church. Mary’s role in our salvation is immortalized in the human discipline of “lifting our minds and hearts to God”- prayer. “For God wonderful in power, has used that strength for me.” (Lk. 1:47) Her words in the Magnificat summarize the role of prayer in her life, and in the life of her Son whom she first taught to pray.
Her intimate interaction with the Spirit of God, brought Jesus into the world. Her continual actions of letting go (“be it done unto me according to your Will…” “…do what He tells you to do.”) gives us a lesson in surrender for a greater good, that is, allowing God to work through, with and, even, despite me! Throughout her life she would be present in the midst of the disciples, in ways that she would model fidelity and hope amidst the people being formed as the Body of her Son on this earth.
In the Gospel, it is described how Jesus and his newly chosen disciples came down from the mountain where he had spent the night in prayer, and he “stood on a level place, with a great crowd of his disciples and a great multitude of people.” Again, in Mary’s prayer, she acknowledges with gratitude how God “regarded her humble state.” Jesus is teaching his disciple their humble state as to being on level ground with their fellow human beings. No pedestals, privileges, power or popularity. Would not Mary, too, stand at the foot of the Cross, and, eventually stand in the midst of His Body, that is the Church on earth, in the upper room on Pentecost?
As in the spirit of Mary, we seek to recommit to our own personal discipline of prayer, for the sake, of those to whom we are sent everyday.
Fr. Alex Steinmiller, C.P. is president emeritus of Holy Family Cristo Rey Catholic High School, Birmingham, Alabama.