Question: Rosy Thambian
Please help me to understand better the role of Mary in the forthcoming Christmas event.
Answer: Dominic Veliath SDB
Catholics understand salvation as involving a Salvation History. Were Christianity merely a set of truths, the entire issue would centre primarily on how to distinguish the essential truths from the non-essential ones. In a Salvation History approach, instead, the issue of Perspective becomes very important. God is to be accepted in His context. Hence, accepting salvation in Jesus Christ implies also accepting the Way in which this salvation has been realized; and this means above all, accepting Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation. This brings us to the crux of the issue: What was Mary’s role in God’s plan of salvation?
The response to this query in straight forward terms is very simple. She is the Mother of God. Catholic faith tells us that the Son of God willed to save us by becoming one of us. This He did through the Incarnation as Jesus Christ, who truly became a man. As a matter of fact, He died! (You can’t be more human than that). The Church, trying to articulate this mystery in its implications, solemnly proclaimed the Virgin Mary as the Mother of God in the Council of Ephesus (431).
Reflecting on the figure of the Mother of God as described in the New Testament, the Church came to the realization of another amazing dimension of Mary. She was not only the Mother of the Son of God, but she was also His disciple, one who answered the call of God. Who is a disciple? A disciple is one who is called by God and responds in faith. Hence Mary figures in the Christ event as a Mother and Disciple.
We may not have a portrait of Mary in the New Testament; however, we can certainly trace a profile of Mary’s faith as given in the Gospels, especially in the Gospels of Luke and John:
1. At the Annunciation, Mary heard the Word of God and accepted it. She responded as a Christian disciple.
2. In the Visitation, Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, filled with the prophetic spirit, praises Mary not only for her physical motherhood, but because she responded faith to the Word of God.
3. At the birth of Jesus, Mary responded like a Christian disciple, “pondering these things in her heart.”
4. During the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple, the suffering of Mary, mother and disciple is predicted by Simeon.
5. In the mystery of the finding of the boy Jesus in the Temple, the Lucan Gospel once again presents Mary as a disciple who, while not understanding what was happening, “retained all these things in her heart.”
6. Finally, standing at the foot of the Cross, watching her Son die, she is asked by her Son to become the Mother of the Disciples.
Hence, the figure of Mary becomes relevant to us as our model as disciples of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, St Ambrose, calls her a “Type” of the Church.
1. A disciple is called to be open to God’s self gift viz. redemption. This is realized in Mary in a unique way as Mother of the Lord.
2. A disciple is delivered from all sin by Jesus Christ. The dogma of the Immaculate Conception proclaims to us that this has been anticipated in Mary in a manner that was total and unique.
3. A disciple is called to total glorification with Jesus Christ, in the case of Mary, this has been already integrally realized in her Assumption.
4. A disciple is called to be totally available and committed to the Lord. In Mary’s case, this was manifested through her Virginity integrally considered.
Hence it is that the Church has praised God by acknowledging what He has done in Mary; thereby fulfilling the prophecy which the Holy Spirit put on Mary’s own lips in the Magnificat: “All generations shall call me blessed.”
Is it therefore any surprise that Mary lays such a prominent role in the Christmas event!