They remind us of many of the admirable qualities of Mary while also reminding us that Mary was an ordinary woman who placed her faith and trust in God at all times.
At the heart of our Catholic faith is Jesus Christ, born of Mary, at a particular moment in human history amid troublesome and challenging times. Luke’s Gospel gives us a glimpse of the extraordinary role of Mary in becoming Mother of Jesus and Mother of God. Mary is described as blessed among women, and the child she bore is also blessed. (Luke 1:42) In Luke’s account of the Annunciation, we hear that God looked with favour on Mary, and that she responded favourably and wholeheartedly to what God was asking of her. Mary’s close relationship with God resulted in her placing her trust in God’s words and responding: ‘Here I am, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ (1:38)
Mary’s importance for us emerges out of her deep faith and trust in God. As the mother of Jesus, she knew the joys and concerns of motherhood, the difficulties associated with having to abandon home and flee to another country, the sorrows she was later to endure as Jesus’ days drew to a close. Mary also had the joy of seeing Jesus grow and develop; she also taught him how to pray and treat people well, ensuring that the isolated and marginalised were given consideration and a welcome. In a very real sense, Mary saw Jesus take his first – and last steps. She journeyed with him, not only as mother, but as disciple, one who listened and learned from Jesus.
At this time of year when many parishes are preparing for another group of inquirers to become involved in the RCIA process, it is good and timely for all of us in our communities to be open to others joining the Church. In a very real sense, we are the 72 disciples sent out to bring good news to the world and to encourage the beginnings of faith in Jesus in those who are seeking something more in life. Many of the inquirers who make an initial contact about the RCIA will observe that they are looking for something, searching for meaning and deeper relevance in life. They are looking for a community of faith to support them in their life journey and they are seeking fellow companions on this journey.
Here again we can draw inspiration from Mary, Mother of God, our mother, and Mother of the Church. When Jesus was no longer physically present to his disciples, it was Mary who sustained and supported them by her presence, her unwavering faith and her prayers. It was Mary who was with them at Pentecost, the birth of the Church; it was Mary who continued to support the grieving disciples and who showed them the way of loving fidelity to God and to her Son. Right to the end, Mary was present, continuing to refer to her Son, reminding the disciples to act in the manner of Jesus and to be faithful to him in their preaching of the gospel.
In our days, we can still draw inspiration from Mary as we look forward to welcoming new inquirers to our communities. From Mary we can renew our understanding of what it means to be disciples, on the way, walking together. We are called to bear witness to Christ by living our lives with confidence and trust as Mary did, in the sure knowledge that we, too, are loved by an special to God.
This knowledge and experience of God’s favour should spill over into our everyday lives to animate our communities and to provide a welcome to others who want a taste of what we have in our faith.
Kathy Horan is RCIA coordinator with the Adelaide Archdiocese.