As Catholics, it is good for us to reflect upon Mary since May is dedicated to her, and we are in the midst of the 100th anniversary of Mary’s apparition at Fatima this year. First, it is always important that we emphasize that we do not adore or worship Mary. We honor her even as her son, Jesus, honors her. She is his mother and our mother given to us by Jesus on the cross. We also pray to her – that is, we converse with her as we would with any close friend, as we would with our mother, which she is. We know she loves us and cares for us. We all can benefit from that love.
There are many topics one could develop about Mary. What I would like to reflect on with you today is Mary and the Church. St. John Paul often talked about the “Petrine” and the “Marian” aspects of the Church. Now both Peter and Mary are saints and, therefore, holy, Mary is certainly the great model of holiness for the Church. This role of Mary reminds us that the major reason for the Church and for us belonging to the Church is be holy – that is, to get to heaven. And just as we hope that Mary will not only model this journey for us, but also walk with us and assist us on the pilgrimage back to our heavenly homeland, so we, imitating her, should seek to model this very travel for others. That is our role in the Church.
“Mary’s role in the Church is inseparable from her union with Christ and flows directly from it.” (CCC #964) The scene which always touches my heart is the wedding feast at Cana where Mary tells the stewards to do whatever Jesus tells them. She points to Jesus. Thus, Mary is really showing us what the Church should always be doing, and, by extension, what we should always do – that is, point to Christ. We Catholics are not very good at this. We are rather private about our faith. We really have to get over that and do more pointing to Christ. Jesus must be the pivot on which our lives turn.
Mary was there until the end, supporting her son, Jesus, as he fulfilled the Father’s will and gave his life for us on the cross. Perseverance and fidelity are the marks of such a model. So must our Church be, and so must we be as members of the body of Christ. Of course, we all fail. We are all sinners. I think that is why Jesus fell carrying his cross; it was to show us what to do when we fall – we get back up and keep going, to the end.
Finally, just being Jesus’ mother fulfills such a blessing for all of us. She models for the Church how the Church is to be mother to the faithful, to nourish God’s people, to form and instruct them, to comfort and accompany them. We need to let the motherhood of Mary appeal to all of us, to reach into our hearts for those motherly instincts as we comfort, accompany and help form one another in the Church. This is not some generic love, but a deep-felt care for those in need. Mary usually has appeared to the poor, such as at Fatima. This reflects her deep heart, but also clearly that of her son, Jesus.
As we dedicate this month to Mary, let it be a time of rededication on our part to be holy, to point to Jesus, to be faithful and to care for those in need. Then we will be true sons and daughters of the Church, as well as of Mary.