It is common to speak of the days from Palm Sunday to Easter as a roller coaster ride. But the image of a roller coaster also fits the days of walking along the Emmaus Road to what we call Ascension Thursday. Jesus’ followers rejoiced at hearing and experiencing his appearance. They wanted to believe. Yet Thomas imaged the struggle of many who had not seen Jesus in the flesh.
That got me wondering about Mary ‘s role on the Pentecost roller coaster.
What do we know?
We know she played a key role in the wedding at Cana. She was present in his last hours. John 19:26-27 tells of Jesus’ concern that Mary and John recognize their relationship as mother and son.
The Acts of the Apostles tells us she was with them during the days of waiting for the power of the Spirit to descend upon them. Mary’s presence in the upper room is her last appearance in Scripture. We know that the doors were often locked out of fear.
The rest is conjecture.
As best we can tell, she hadn’t been with the first disciples much while they had been traveling with Jesus. Many may hardly have known her before they learned she stood at the foot of his Cross.
So what was it like in their gatherings in that upper room as they waited for the spirit? A common grief and joy bound them together.
What stories Mary could have told! She could have shared so many of the stories a mother carries in her heart in the years after carrying the child in her womb. She could have shared stories only a mother could know.
More than just stories, she could share wisdom. We know that Jesus grew in wisdom, age and grace. But so did Mary. Yes, she taught Jesus many things. So I have no doubt she also learned much from him. As mother’s do, “she pondered all these things in her heart.”
I suspect that Mary, Mother of the Church, whose feast we celebrate today, would have encouraged the early church with words similar to what Pope Francis spoke in his 2021 homily on Pentecost.
The book of Acts tells us of rising tensions among the followers of Jesus. These culture wars were as deep as any we know today. Pope Francis writes…
The Spirit also tells us, “Look to the whole”. The whole, not the part. The Spirit does not mould isolated individuals, but shapes us into a Church in the wide variety of our charisms, into a unity that is never uniformity.
The Paraclete affirms the primacy of the whole. There, in the whole, in the community, the Spirit prefers to work and to bring newness.
…Today, if we listen to the Spirit, we will not be concerned with conservatives and progressives, traditionalists and innovators, right and left. When those become our criteria, then the Church has forgotten the Spirit.
The Paraclete impels us to unity, to concord, to the harmony of diversity. He makes us see ourselves as parts of the same body, brothers and sisters of one another. Let us look to the whole!
The enemy wants diversity to become opposition and so he makes them become ideologies. Say no to ideologies, yes to the whole
I invite you to take whatever quiet moments you can find today to think about what she could have shared about Jesus that you need to hear today… and what we as a Church need to hear.
Click below for an audio version of this Vincentian Mindwalk.