Behold and Love Your Mother
“O Virgin Mary, you are, in truth, his best creation, and no one has ever loved Jesus so intimately as you.” ~ Saint Bridget of Sweden
When I was 18 years old and a Senior in High School, I dated the older sister of a classmate and friend of mine, who happened to be dating one of my best friends. Her name was Eleanor and she was 21 years old. My friends loved the fact that I was dating Eleanor primarily due to the fact that she was old enough to buy them beer. This was not a huge fringe benefit in my eyes, as McDonald’s Strawberry Shakes were my preferred beverage of choice at the time. Eleanor was a bit of a hippie, which was for the most part fine by me. She would take me to Grateful Dead Concerts and I would take her to baseball games at Shea Stadium to watch the New York Mets. It was the summer of 1986; Jerry was still alive and the Mets would go on to win the World Series that Fall. As I look back on those days 35 years later, particularly in light of the seemingly never-ending pandemic and the calamitous racial discord that infects and plagues our world today, I certainly miss them.
Eleanor had a bumper sticker on the back of her battered, black 1981 Ford Escort that said “Love Your Mother.” This slogan was popular at the time among the tie-dyed bohemians and other assorted non-conformists, a nod to our environment and the need to cherish, nurture and respect it. Today the Church pauses to memorialize and cherish her Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, as Mother of our Church.
First taught by the great Saint Ambrose in the fourth century, the title of “Mother of the Church” for the Blessed Virgin Mary was proclaimed by one of the very newest members of the Communion of Saints, Saint Paul VI, on November 21, 1964. This came about at the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council’s third session.
Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, said of this Memorial “The water and blood which flowed from the heart of Christ on the Cross as a sign of the totality of his redemptive offering, continue to give life to the Church sacramentally through Baptism and the Eucharist. In this wonderful communion between the Redeemer and the redeemed, which always needs to be nourished, Blessed Mary has her maternal mission to carry out.”
Mary introduced Christ’s Kingdom to the world at the Wedding Feast at Cana, kickstarting her Son’s Earthly Ministry in the process; the turning of water into wine would be Jesus’ first miracle. “Do whatever he tells you.” These were Mary’s words to the wine steward at Cana, the last words she would speak in Sacred Scripture. These words would serve as our roadmap to eternal life as well, eternal life in the Heavenly Kingdom where she would go to be crowned as Queen.
Today’s 1st Reading (Genesis 3:9-15, 20) is certainly appropriate, for it chronicles the fall, that wrenching moment in time whereby sin entered into the world. As we know, the Blessed Virgin Mary would go on to become “the new Eve,” by way of her fiat at the Annunciation. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/Examining-Eve-In-The-Context-of-Mary. The Angel Gabriel’s words to Mary, “Hail, full of grace” (Luke 1:28) would usher in a radical new turn in God’s dialogue with mankind. God chooses a young Jewish woman, the daughter of Anne and Joachim, making a momentous request of her by way of the Angel Gabriel: to bear the Son of the Most High (1:31-32). As the 2nd Century Bishop Saint Irenaeus once said “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was loosed by obedience of Mary.” Whereas Eve was made the Mother of the living, Mary, by welcoming and nurturing Jesus in her womb, has become Mother to all those whose lives are rooted not in this world, but instead in the Spirit. That this Memorial would follow on the heels of Pentecost Sunday, the literal pouring forth of the Holy Spirit upon the world, could not be more appropriate. https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/ENTER-The-Holy-Spirit-for-a-little-while
In today’s Gospel (John 19:25-34) Jesus pronounces to his beloved disciple John: "Behold, your mother." In saying this, he was giving Mary not only to John, but through John to the whole Church. Mary would in turn be the Mother of all of Jesus’ beloved disciples from that point forward until the day in which he comes again. Once again, an aptly chosen passage for today’s celebration.
But it is the 12th Chapter of the Book of Revelation that comes to mind for me on this day however, for it is in this mysterious and apocalyptic verse that we are reminded that by rebirth, we are members of Christ’s Mystical Body. The church, specifically its members, is Christ’s Mystical Body as Saint Paul teaches us throughout his Letters. This is where we see the very real and very logical connection to Mary as our Mother. Mary is the mother of Jesus therefore the mother of the church, the mystical body. We are all called to serve as members of Christ’s mystical body. Each one of us. Therein lies the tragedy of the enormous number of fallen-away Catholics, those who have inexplicably walked away from the Eucharist. Without them, without even one of them, we are incomplete.
This is why Mary is not only the Mother of our Church but instead the Mother of all mankind, for full membership in the Church of Christ is God’s true desire for all of his children. “Love Your Mother” has nothing to do with environmentalism, this despite the fact that it is our edict and responsibility as good Catholics to be conscientious stewards of the world in which we live. But the Earth is not our Mother. It is instead God’s creation, just as we are God’s creation. In that respect, the Earth could instead more accurately be considered to be our sister, but even that analogy is oblique in that God loves his children far more so than the planet he created for his children to tend to and enjoy.
Mary is, without question, our true Mother. To once again quote Cardinal Sarah, “If we want to grow and to be filled with the love of God, it is necessary to plant our life firmly on three great realities: the Cross, the Eucharist, and the Mother of God. These are three mysteries that God gave to the world in order to structure, fructify, and sanctify our interior life and lead us to Jesus.”
Behold, and love your Mother Mary with tireless devotion and great fervor. For as Saint Louis Marie de Montfort once said "All true children of God have God for their father and Mary for his mother; anyone who does not have Mary for his mother, does not have God for his father."
“O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.”