Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church

Gn 3:9-15, 20; Ps 87:1-2, 3; 5, 6-7; Jn 19:25-34

Today we behold in the light of Pentecost the true city of God, the Church.  Today, we join in the jubilation of  Psalm 87 to behold through the Holy Spirit that the Blessed Virgin Mary is the Holy Mother about whom glorious things are said.  All through history the church has given us the vision of our future glory in the present moment through the maternal love of the Holy Godbearer, Theotokos.  Everyone who is full of life and enjoys life in abundance calls Mary, mother.  In the wound of her son Jesus we were born of water and blood.  She is given to us as mother to his Beloved Disciple and to all of us who are his beloved disciples.  We join in the present divine dance, the pericorisis, the movement of God out of eternity into our world to save, anoint, and bring us back to God. Because of this feast we can recognize our true home is through Him, with Him and in Him.  Without his Holy Mother such a revelation could not have happened.  We are bright with the fifty days of Easter Exaltation and now on this fifty-first day since the Bright Glory appeared on the horizon we sing and dance in the in our true and eternal identity as one who sings, “my home is within you!”

For some pastoral reason the lectionary leaves out much of the bad news in this account of human origins. We do not hear the full brunt of the punishment that the LORD gave to our first parents in Genesis.  Perhaps, we need to hear the bad news before we can hear the good news.  In verses 16 – 19 we hear of the suffering Eve and her descendants must bear in the pangs of childbearing, and of the sufferings of Adam and his descendants in the toil of providing food, and the pain that both sons and daughters of our first parents must endure when they return to the dust from which they came. Giving birth, human labor, and even death, great human events, become moments of suffering in human experience all because of the disobedience of Adam in not providing a support for his wife who struggled with temptation, and in the disobedience of both Adam and Eve in consuming the forbidden fruit.  This tragic beginning of our human family is not the whole story.  Indeed, it is no real tragedy at all because it results in the promise of salvation spoken by God to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.”  Where the sin of disobedience abounded, the grace of obedience all the more abounded.  In the New Eve we see the faithfulness of the LORD who created her without original sin so that from the beginning of her life on earth, at the first moment of her conception in Saint Ann’s womb, Mary would be an obedient daughter of God through the grace of her eternally obedient Son.  Indeed, from all eternity the Son lived and moved and had his being in the Holy Spirit and in loving obedience to the Father.  This Eternal Son became the Son of Mary.  The Blessed Virgin Mary was truly blessed from the very beginning, obedient in love, like Her Son. Indeed, the enmity was between the serpent and the New Eve, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the New Adam, Jesus Christ, the Lord, and that serpent’s head has been crushed, completely crushed.

Why do Catholics as a group and individually ponder such painful images and remember the sufferings of the Lord Jesus?  Many not raised in the womb of Mother Church find such exercises horrific.  Some even see the crucifix, as the reminder of just how inhumane humans can be one to another.  However, generation after generation of Catholics have entered into the mystery of the Cross to become one with the mystery of God’s love in his Crucified Son—a pilgrimage, a journey, that we can make only through the loving guidance of the Holy Spirit who has been pour out into our hearts, transforming pain to suffering, suffering to sacrifice, and sacrifice to intimacy.  Benedict XVI shares his insight about the cross in this way: “What on the outside is simply brutal violence—the Crucifixion—from within becomes an act of total self-giving love…Violence is transformed into love, and death into life.” So we pray all the way through the Stations and all the way through our life: “We adore you O Christ and we praise you, because by your holy cross you have redeemed the world!”  Such is the journey we make in faith and devotion so that we might capture something of the love Christ had in his heart as he felt in his flesh the suffering of his self-sacrifice.  This Divine Love, beyond all telling, burns eternally in the Trinity is being “poured out right here on earth.”