Mary's shared experience

This is the age of celebrity. To have a selfie taken with a famous person seems to be the ambition of half the population. After all, in every generation people have looked up to those who have made their grand mark in life.

Any association with them would become more significant if they were to have a conversation with us and share some confidential information. Then we would truly feel privileged. To some extent this instinct explains the cult of devotion to the saints in the history of the Church.

We recognise that those who have been faithful to the Lord’s teaching and lived their lives close to him provide us with models for our imitation and, by association, they are able to share privileged information about him with us. Among the saints, Mary, the mother of Jesus, holds a unique place. Scripture scholars agree that the evangelist, Luke, had a close friendship with Mary. Luke tells us more about Mary than any of the other gospel writers.

Luke, both in his gospel and in the Acts of the Apostles, describes the Ascension, the event which marked the completion of Jesus’ ministry on earth. In neither account is there mention that Mary was there, but in Acts, Luke goes on to tell us that when the apostles gathered back in Jerusalem and waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit, Mary was with them.

Luke refers to the fact that Jesus, after his Passion and over a period of 40 days, had shown himself to be alive on many occasions. Interestingly, all the resurrection stories are shrouded in mystery and the apostles will need the gift of the Spirit to help them put the jigsaw together. Their hopes were duly fulfilled at Pentecost when they were given the power to witness fearlessly to the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus.

We are all being called to be Christ’s witnesses in our own time and place. It is not surprising that the Church came to the conclusion that Mary must have shared the experience of the Ascension. Later in the liturgical year, we celebrate her Assumption into heaven. Ultimately, this gives meaning to today’s feast for all of us.

Timothy Buckley CSsR

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