21 May, 2018. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church
1st Reading: Acts of the Apostles (1:12-14)
Mary the mother of Jesus among the disciples after the Ascension
After Jesus had been taken up to heaven, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Alternative 1st Reading: Genesis 3:9-15, 20 (The woman crushes the head of the serpent)
Resp. Psalm (Ps 87)
R./: Glorious things are told of you, O city of God
The Lord loves his foundation upon the holy mountains
The gates of Zion more than any dwelling of Jacob.
Glorious things are said of you, O city of God! (R./)
Of Zion they shall say:
One and all were born in her;
And he who has established her
is the Most High Lord. (R./)
They shall note, when the peoples are enrolled:
Yes, this man was born there.
And all shall sing, in their festive dance:
My home is within you. (R./)
Gospel: John (19:25-34)
From the cross, Jesus gives his mother to be mother of all his disciples
Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary of Magdala.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved,
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
After this, aware that everything was now finished,
in order that the Scripture might be fulfilled,
Jesus said, “I thirst.”
There was a vessel filled with common wine.
So they put a sponge soaked in wine on a sprig of hyssop
and put it up to his mouth.
When Jesus had taken the wine, he said,
“It is finished.”
And bowing his head, he handed over the spirit.
Now since it was preparation day,
in order that the bodies might not remain on the cross on the sabbath,
for the sabbath day of that week was a solemn one,
the Jews asked Pilate that their legs be broken
and they be taken down.
So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first
and then of the other one who was crucified with Jesus.
But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead,
they did not break his legs,
but one soldier thrust his lance into his side,
and immediately Blood and water flowed out.
Mary, Mother of the Church
The title “Mother of the Church” (Mater Ecclesiae) was applied to the mother of Jesus by Pope Paul VI in November 1964 at the close of the Second Vatican Council. The title was first used in the 4th century by Saint Ambrose of Milan and more recently the title was favoured by Pope John Paul II and then incorporated into the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
It is closely linked to Mary’s being at the heart of that prayerful group of apostles and disciples in the upper room, awaiting the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Specifically, her maternal role towards Christ’s faithful is founded on the words spoken by Jesus from the cross to the Beloved Disciple, who represents all future disciples: Behold your mother [John 19:27]. As John Paul II wrote: “In her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church, and embraces each and every one through the Church.” In March 2018, Pope Francis inserted into the Roman Calendar the Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, to be celebrated each year on the Monday after Pentecost.
“The Church is feminine,” Pope Francis said in his homily on today, “she is a mother.” When this trait is lacking, he continued, the Church resembles merely “a charitable organization, or a football team”. A too masculine Church, he said, sadly becomes “a church of old bachelors,incapable of love, incapable of fruitfulness.” The Pope assigned the feast to the Monday immediately following Pentecost, “to encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety.”