Today, we’re celebrating a feast day! In particular, it’s the feast day of Mary, Mother of the Church. Hooray!
And! Not only that, but it’s a brand new feast day. And by brand new, I mean it was instituted this year.
There are two parts to this feast day that are delved into each of the readings. One is her motherhood of the church, in which Jesus gives His mother to His Beloved Disciple, which I go into a little more detail here. But, the Church isn’t officially formed at this point, so He can’t officially give her to all of the Church. It is only until Pentecost when the Holy Spirit officially comes down upon the disciples in the form of tongues of flame in which the Church is officially formed. And Mary was part of this! Check out today’s first reading:
Acts of the Apostles 1
12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.13When 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. 14All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Shortly after this, the actual event of Pentecost happens!
While I was reflecting on this, I couldn’t help but think: how beautiful that Mary experienced Pentecost in this way! When we celebrate Marian feast days, we tend to reflect on the Annunciation and her Fiat, aka her yes to life. Then, Jesus is conceived through the Holy Spirit inside of her womb. In art, that is typically shown as a dove descending upon Mary with rays of light (for instance, take a look at this picture).
Yet, that Annunciation directly parallels the Pentecost. After all, during Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descends upon all the disciples — including Mary! — while they are praying. And so she gets a beautiful opportunity to not just accept the Holy Spirit with the promise of Christ once, but twice as well.
And so, I want to highlight this picture of the Pentecost:
Many of the disciples that receive these tongues of flame that represent the Holy Spirit are afraid or astonished. It is only Mary that stands upright and calm in the midst of this flurry of activity, her hands clasped on her heart.
Which makes sense! After all, out of everybody there, she is the only one who has familiarity in receiving Jesus in the form of the Holy Spirit.
So let us pray on this festive day that we may open our hearts, just like Mary did, to the Holy Spirit. And let us not be afraid to ask Mary, who was there at the foundation of the Church, to pray for us and give us faith.