“I realized when you look at your mother, you are looking at the purest love you will ever know.” ~ Mitch Albom
Today we celebrate a Marian Feast that was promulgated by our current Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, a Memorial he has dubbed Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. This title was bestowed upon Mary at the conclusion of the 3rd Council of Vatican II but the teaching itself actually traces its origins back to the 4th century and the sagacious Saint Ambrose, who taught tirelessly on the topic. Pope Francis has placed it on the Liturgical Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost.
The Collect chosen for today’s Mass captures in part the essence of this Memorial, proclaiming that Jesus, as he hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother, to be our Mother also. As such, today’s Gospel (John 19:25-34) for all intents and purposes chooses itself as we revisit this seminal moment wherein Jesus, nailed to his instrument of execution, utters these unforgettable words to the Apostle John:
“Behold, Your Mother.”
Jesus, having had virtually everything taken away from him, gives away the last thing he has . . . His mother.
Adam and Eve were our first parents. Just as Jesus is the New Adam, Mary is the New Eve. In fact our 1st Reading today from the Book of Genesis (3:9-15) takes us back to that moment in time when sin entered the world. Mary was the obedient Eve, the Eve who possessed docility of spirit. She is the quintessential disciple, the perfect role model. As Mother of the Church and mother of the faithful, we seek her intercession in becoming more like her.
Mary cannot be reduced to a mere accoutrement, not in our prayer lives and certainly not in the Gospel As Scott Hahn points out in his new book Hail, Holy Queen, “If we are to know the brotherhood of Jesus Christ, we must come to know the mother whom we share with Jesus Christ. Without her, our understanding of the gospel will be, at best, partial. Without her, our understanding of salvation can never be familial. It will be stalled out in the old covenant, where God’s fatherhood was considered to be metaphorical, and man’s sonship was more like servility.” Mystically, Mary gives birth to Christ and as such give me birth to the entire church. She is the icon of perfect Christian discipleship, sinlessly obedient, holy and pure of heart.
Mary’s extreme solicitude and protectiveness of Jesus mirrors her care and concern for us. For just as Jesus gave his mother to his beloved friend John, he gave her to each one of us. As Bishop Robert Barron explains, “Just as the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother were required to bring about the Incarnation in history, so those same two agents are required to bring about the birth of Christ in our souls.”
It was Abraham Lincoln, a man who mentioned God 14 times in his 2nd Inaugural Address, who once said “No man is poor who has a Godly mother.” For those who place their trust in Mary, the very Mother of God, they will experience the abundant riches of eternal paradise.
Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Our Church, pray for us….
Today also marks the Memorial of Saint Norbert, founder of the Norbertine Order etc. For some insight into his life, please revisit my mediation from last year: