There was a news story not too long ago about a Malian woman who gave birth to nine babies. Nine! They all survived, and it may be a world record. I cannot imagine caring for nine newborns; I would need lots of helpers! Today we celebrate Mary as the Mother of the Church—all those people that are the Church! Being the Mother of God, Mary is certainly qualified for the task!
I remember teaching Sunday school years ago and explaining to my second graders that we Christians are one big family called “the Church.” I told them that when we speak of “the Church” of Christ, we are not talking about a building, but about the people who love Jesus and sometimes go into buildings to worship. We are the Mystical Body of Christ. Seven and eight-year-olds may not have understood what that all means, and sometimes we adults don’t quite get it either. However, I think most of us have a good idea of what a blessing it is to have a loving, protective mother watching over our big family.
It has been my experience that mothers usually try to think ahead when it comes to their children; they think of the bigger pictures and the many contingencies and possible repercussions of their actions. Women who strive to be good mothers are usually planners, multi-taskers, rectifiers, and comforters. They try to be focused on the tasks at hand, and yet aware of the possible side effects. While they are not perfect, love is their innate motivation. Sacrifice is second nature to them.
Our Blessed Mother was given to the care of the beloved disciple, and to us, by Jesus as he was dying on the cross. Being God, Jesus always saw the bigger picture. He knew what a loving, generous, faithful woman his mother was. He knew she would take care of his earthly brothers and sisters and be a wonderful example of holiness.
In the afterglow of the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, today we thankfully recognize the great love that God shows us by providing not only numerous spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit to help us grow and share the good news of his kingdom, but a gentle Mother who prays and intercedes for us. Jesus did not leave us orphans.
In her earthly appearances, as in Fatima and Medjugorje, Mother Mary specifically and repeatedly urges us to pray. One lesson from the unprecedented pandemic over the past year might be to take more time to be in the present moment we have and pray, even if we are mothers (or fathers) who are usually busy multitasking. With so much uncertainty surrounding the virus, we can be certain of Mary’s vigilance and desire to see her children come closer and closer to her son. She, who gave birth to Jesus in Bethlehem, wants to see Jesus born again and again in His Church, in us!
We can ask Mary’s help to inspire more vocations to the priesthood, to calm any unrest in our Church, to help us grow closer as a family as we gradually go back to more regular church gatherings, and to show us how to mother (and father) our young church members. We can also have some “alone time” with Mary to thank her for her humble example of openness to the Holy Spirit Who gives us power and inspiration.
Painting, Madonna and Child, by Giovanni Battista Salvi da Sassoferrato (1609-1685)
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.