“Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’”
Reflections on the readings for the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church (May 24, 2021): GN 3:9-15,20; PS 87:1-2,3,5,6-7; JN 19:25-34
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"When Jesus had taken the wine, he said, “It is finished.” And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit." (John 19: 30)
Today we venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of the Church. The lovely title has been used by many including Pope St. Leo the Great in the fifth century and Pope Paul VI in the twentieth. However, only in 2018 did Pope Francis declare this Monday after Pentecost a Memorial on the Roman Calendar. It was especially chosen to emphasize Mary’s relationship with the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles and a number of Christ’s earliest disciples, both men and women. Mary was among them in a room that many believe was the same one used for the Last Supper. Just as we recognize her as the Mother of the Son of God, we honor Mary as the Mother of the Church. As we are members of the Body of Christ, it is entirely appropriate to acknowledge the Mother of our Savior for her unique relationship with the Church in this way.
In the Gospel today, we are reminded about what Jesus said to His mother and to St. John during His crucifixion when He entrusted them to one another. “Standing by the cross of Jesus were His mother…and the disciple there whom He loved.… When Jesus had taken the wine, He said, ‘It is finished.’ And bowing His head, He handed over the spirit.… When they came to Jesus…one soldier thrust his lance into His side, and immediately Blood and water flowed out” (John 19:25-26, 30, 33-34). With Mary becoming John’s mother and John becoming her son, we see the beautiful bond they were given by our Lord immediately before His death. More than that, we recognize that this is an ongoing union between the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Church that Christ established. Through her loving care we are always drawn closer to her Son by the power of the Holy Spirit.