Mary, Mother of the Chruch
Genesis 3:9-15, 20
Yesterday was Pentecost and it is often referred to as the ‘birthday of the Church’ when all those in the Upper Room were showered with the Holy Spirit and were filled with a new God-given life. Mary was among those present. But 53 days before, she was standing at the foot of the cross, watching as her beloved son was crucified. And it was on this day that Mary became the Mother of the Church, a feast that we celebrate today. As we read this excerpt from the Crucifixion, some of the very last words that Jesus said, as he struggled for every breath, were: ‘” Woman, this is your son.” Then to the disciple, he said, “This is your mother.”’ Jesus is inviting us to have a relationship with her as our Mum! In his deepest pain and agony Jesus gave us this most precious gift – his mother, Mary.
Mary’s answer to God is always ‘Yes.’ ‘Yes’ to being the Mother of God and ‘Yes’ to being the Mother of the Church. Therefore Jesus’ Mum is our Mum. Jesus is asking us to enter into a relationship with her so that becoming closer to her we in fact draw closer to him. The more we know Mary, the more we know Jesus. Mary always points to Jesus – just like the moon reflects the light of the sun, so too does Mary reflect the light of her son.
When Jesus called Mary ‘woman’, this was not out of disrespect. Rather he was calling Mary to be the new Eve. Eve in the story of creation was called to be the ‘mother of all the living.’ Mary is now to be the ‘mother of all the redeemed.’ Jesus was redeeming you and me as he lay dying on the cross, and his parting gift was to share with us the emblem of human perfection – his mother, Mary.
As the beloved disciple, we have each been given Mary as our spiritual mother, to take her into our homes – in other words, into our hearts, the deepest place in our lives. So as we stand at the foot of the cross and look up to Jesus, he is dying for us to take Mary into our hearts to cherish her as he cherished her; to listen and to learn from her as he did, and to ask her to walk with us on our journey towards him. All we have to do is say ‘Yes.’
Victoria Raw is parishioner of Te Whetu O Te Moana, Star of the Sea Marlborough, NZ and is active in lay ministry.