Meditation upon Mary, Creation and the Church
FAITH Magazine March-April 2009
When we begin to understand the mystery of the Incarnation, we begin to grasp that God never merely does things to us, but always with our co-operation. We are always partners in our own salvation. This is why we cannot think of Jesus without also thinking of the Church as his partner. Mary is the first - the most essential and the greatest - partner of God in saving the world, because it is through her that Jesus comes to us. This gives her a unique and special relationship to God and to the rest of humanity. This is not a 'one-off job, she has an ongoing vocation which encompasses her whole life and identity at the centre of God's plan.
We can understand all the key doctrines about Mary in this light. Mary's Immaculate Conception is the sign that her vocation is rooted in the very foundations of creation before sin ever came about. She is the original Mother of the Living and in her we also see the 'dawn of redeeming grace'. She is therefore the image or archetype of what the human family in God (ie. the Church) always ought to have been like and what it will be like again through Jesus. She is the Mother of the Church not just because she is there at its beginning, but because she is its beginning.
Then in the Annunciation Mary answers God on behalf of all humanity in welcoming the Messiah. Her "yes" to Christ sets out the manifesto of her own life and of the whole Church.
This enduring "yes" is then lived out by Mary in her sinless faithfulness, in her intimate discipleship of her Son and in her co-operation in prayer with his Sacrifice on the cross. Through all this, Mary is not just an example of holiness and Christian discipleship. As our mother she actually sums up and conveys in herself the whole nature and work of the Church in her partnership with Christ.
Most importantly Mary also continues in her unique relationship with Christ and with the members of his wider Body - the Church - when she is taken up bodily into heaven at her Assumption. She has now become what we hope to be. So in Mary redemption is complete and the final Church of heaven has been made real. Mary is a sign of hope to all believers. As Mother she spurs the Church onwards to heaven.
Mary now continues to pray for the children who are born to God from her Son's work. She does not get in the way of his irreplaceable role as our divine Saviour. She loves them because of him and she intercedes for them through him. She is the expert par excellence on receiving and responding to grace. She is Mother of Grace because she is herself 'full of grace', and as Mother of the Church she constantly gives us Jesus.