Mother of the Church on Mission

Editor: The following is taken from the prepared Catechesis Instruction for the 2016 International Eucharistic Congress held in Cebu, Philippines. Question-and-answer format and reflection questions are added.

Why do Asians and others have a great love for Mary?

Untitled 1Theotokos (God-bearer) of Vladimir; Phoitio: Ajvol/wikipedia, 12th century
“Asian Christians have a great love and affection for Mary, revering her as their own Mother and the Mother of Christ”. Thus did Saint John Paul II recall a statement made by the Synod Fathers at their Special Assembly for Asia in 1998. . .

She is the model of the Church in its mission of evangelization because of how she closely cooperated in the saving work of her Son (Vatican II, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 2; citing Jn 10:16) and because she exemplifies the missionary journey that the Church has taken and continues to take.

Why is Mary so special?

As Mary was first recipient of the Good News at the Annunciation before she brought the same Good News to Elizabeth at her Visitation and to the rest of the world at the Nativity of her Son, so is the Church also called first to be an evangelized and an evangelizing community (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi,15 & 22).

At the foot of the Cross, Christ entrusted the Church and its mission to the care of his Mother: “Woman, here is your son” (Jn 19:26-27). “Mary is the Mother of the Church which evangelizes, and without her we could never truly understand the spirit of the new evangelization.” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 284).

Who was the first to be evangelized by Jesus?

Mary heard the word of God in the “first Gospel” proclaimed by the angel Gabriel. Her Fiat, her definitive “yes” to God’s call, was a total opening up of her whole self and being to God’s will. It was an act of total obedience and trust; she entrusted her life to God’s designs. By the power of the Spirit, she conceived the Son of God made (human); God took on flesh in her womb. She gave God his humanity. And in faith, she joined herself wholly to the saving mission of the Son in history.

What events in Mary’s life “evangelized” her?

Untitled 2Lippo memmi, madonna della misericordia_1350s_Chapel of the Corporal, Duomo, Orvieto; Photo: Sailko/wikipedia
What followed in her life – the visitation to Elizabeth, the revelation given to Joseph about the child in her womb, the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, the presentation of her Child in the Temple and Simeon’s prophecy, the coming of the Wise Men and the Holy Family’s subsequent flight to Egypt, the loss and finding of the child Jesus in Jerusalem, her not being able to understand so much of what was happening, and her pondering of the events and words in her heart – was her evangelization. In this way, her faith, discipleship and, above all, her spiritual motherhood that was to be her destiny, were shaped.

How was Mary an Evangelizer?

Visiting Elizabeth, she brought the child in her womb to the hill country of Judah. Face-to-face with Mary, the pregnant Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and her unborn child was moved by the Spirit (Lk 1:41,44). And Elizabeth told her, “Blessed are you who believed…” (v. 45) to which Mary replied: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord” (v. 46). Mary drew from the treasury of words that she pondered in her heart with the Spirit, proclaiming it as Good News, as Gospel for (humankind).

At the appointed time, Mary brought forth the Father’s Son made flesh from her own womb. She gave us Jesus. She held him up before shepherds and wise men. She placed him in old Simeon’s arms, and he knew in joy the promise of God fulfilled. Her bidding brought about the first of her Son’s signs at the wedding feast in Cana. Her last words there were directed to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” And she continues to address these words to all ages thereafter.

How did Mary become the first of the disciples and the first apostle?

As her Son preached to the crowds, she took in his words, and pondered them in her heart, to share them later with the nascent Church. Mother of the apostles, she was in their midst when the Spirit came to them in the likeness of tongues of fire on that day when the Church, empowered by the Spirit, first proclaimed the Good News to all the world.

Thus Mary was the first to be evangelized, and the first of the disciples, as well as the first Apostle. In every age from the time of the Apostles until the end of time, she is to be present to the evangelizing Church – the Church-in-mission.

Untitled 3Left - Our Lady of Good Counsel by Pasquale Sarullo 1800s : Right - Mother Thrice Admirable Madonna by, Luigi Crosio, 1898

For your reflection:

  • What was your first experience of or contact with a Marian devotion?
  • What do you admire most about Mary?

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