Veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and our mother, is a distinctive feature of our Catholic way of life. Mary was the first Christian disciple — the first person to follow Jesus, her son, and to invite others to do the same. Mary’s discipleship began when she freely chose to accept an absolutely unique responsibility in the history of salvation, which was communicated to her by the angel Gabriel.
Mary’s response was immediate and from the heart: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38). She had no way of knowing exactly what was being asked of her, but she trusted that God would provide her with the grace she needed to do his will.
Mary was also the first Christian evangelist. By her words and her example she proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ. She invites us all to come home to her divine son and to discover in him our hearts’ desire. Through Mary we discover our true identity as Catholics. As the fathers of the Second Vatican Council said so beautifully in the dogmatic constitution of the church, “Lumen Gentium” #63, Mary “gathers up in her own person the great truths of the faith” and “she summons the faithful to her Son.”
Finally, Mary was the first Christian steward. She accepted her role as a caretaker or guardian of the precious gift of her son Jesus, and she shared him generously with all of us, her children. This is what Christian stewardship means: Taking care of, and sharing, all God’s spiritual and material gifts.
If we want to know what it means to be a missionary disciple, we only have to look to the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is the model for life in Christ. Her openness to God’s will (in spite of its mystery), her obedience, her patience, her willingness to stand with him during his passion and death, her experience of joy at Christ’s resurrection, and her active participation in the life of the church after Pentecost all show Mary to be someone we should imitate in our daily lives as Christians.
We Catholics love Mary as one of us — our sister and our mother. We ask her to intercede for us to her son, Jesus. We listen carefully to her words in sacred Scripture. We strive to follow the advice she gave to the servants at the wedding feast in Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.”
Mary, our mother, invites all of us to come home to Jesus, our brother. May we accept her invitation wholeheartedly, without reservation or fear. As we listen attentively to God’s Word, may we respond, with Mary, that we truly are servants of the Lord. May his will be done by each of us according to his word!
Dan Conway is a member of Holy Trinity Church, serves as a member of The Record’s editorial board and is a writer, consultant and stewardship educator.