Acts 1:12-14; Judith 13; John 19:25-27
This memorial was declared by Pope Francis recently to be celebrated on the Monday after Pentecost, the day when the Church is born. Since the Church is also called the mystical Body of Christ, and since Mary is the Mother of Jesus, she is also the Mother of the Church. We see this in the First Reading which tells us that after the Ascension of Jesus, Mary was with the Apostles. Luke lists the names of the Apostles and hers is the only name mentioned aside from the Apostles. This in itself tells us the importance of Mary in the early Church.
The Psalm today, while it was sung to Judith, a Hebrew who delivered her people from destruction, can also be applied to Mary. So why are Catholics devoted to Mary to the point that we are accused of worshiping her, making her an idol?
One thing needs to be clear: that Catholics do not worship Mary. We do not treat her as God so Catholics do not commit idolatry.
If one is truly open to the truth, one realizes the concept of "worship" is a result of the translation of the Greek and Hebrew word for bowing down. The translators of the Bible used the word worship to refer to bowing down to God or deity and prostrate or bow down to refer to bowing down before human beings. Hebrews 11:21 in the King James Version says By faith Jacob, when he was dying blessed both the sons of Joseph and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. The word leaning in this verse is an attempt to explain the worship of Jacob upon the top of his staff.
So the word translated as worship then is an interpretation of the translator of the Greek and Hebrew word for bowing down. Just because someone bows to something does not mean that person worships the thing they bowed to. It shows respect and reverence. Catholics respect and reverence Mary. We do not worship her as God.
So why do Catholics respect Mary? The same reason why Luke respected Mary and included her in the list of the Apostles in the First Reading and in his Gospel, and the same reason why John, included Mary in his Gospel used in today’s reading. Why do Catholics respect Mary? The same reason why Jesus respected her. The God who commanded his people to Honor your father and your mother will honor his Mother. At the cross, Jesus said first Woman, here is your son. By addressing her as Woman, Jesus refers her to Eve, the first Woman who was also created without sin. By giving Mary the beloved disciple, Jesus entrusts his disciples to his Mother, making her figuratively, the Mother of his disciples.
By telling the beloved disciple, Here is your mother, Jesus tells the disciple to recognize her as his Mother. On the cross, Jesus died without any material possession. John said standing near the Cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister. The only persons he saw as he dies on the cross are his mother and the disciple whom he loved, standing beside her. Even here, the disciple is presented in relation to Mary. They were the only possessions Jesus had. Like a dying man who gives his possessions as inheritance to those he loves, Jesus gives his only possessions: his disciples to his Mother, and his Mother to his disciples.
This is the reason why Catholics honor Mary: because Jesus himself honored her. He made her the Mother of his disciples and to make sure they know who she is, he tells the beloved disciple Here is your mother. Disciples of Jesus accept Mary as their mother because this is what Jesus wants.
Mary is the Mother of Jesus who is True God and True Man, making her the Mother of God. Since Christ is the head of the Church, the Church is the Body of Christ. When a woman gives birth normally, the head of the child comes out first then the body. Mary gave birth to the head of the Body, at the Cross, when Jesus gave her the disciples, she also gives birth to the Body of Christ. If anyone wants to remain faithful to the Body of Christ, they need honor Mary because only the Mother knows her Child best. This is why the Church teaches To Jesus through Mary.
Mary, Mother of the Church, let me have the intense love for the mystical Body of Christ. Show me Jesus and lead me to Jesus. Pray for me, that I may recognize you as my Mother whom Jesus gave at the Cross. Take me as a disciple of Jesus. Show me Jesus. I also pray for those who lead the Body of Christ. Give us holy deacons, priests and bishops who will devote their lives to Jesus through you, that they may be faithful to your Son and submit to his will.