We have been reflecting on Mary as a model for the evangelizer by examining three distinct characteristics of evangelization. Catholic evangelization is marked by a deep sense of conversion. All of us are called to a deeper relationship with the risen Lord and all of us can live our faith more fully. Just as Mary was present on the day of Pentecost and the birth of the Church, evangelizers are called to give witness to the Risen Christ. The third characteristic of the Catholic evangelizer is a commitment to contribute to the building up of God’s kingdom. It is Mary’s title as Mother of the Church that teaches us how to imitate the maternal love of Mary.
Mary as mother is a title that relates her to each of us in a particular and personal manner. Mary is also our mother—she is Mother of the Church and therefore mother of each believer. The Second Vatican Council speaks of Mary as “clearly ‘the mother of the members of Christ’…since she has by her charity joined in bringing about the birth of believers in the Church, who are members of its head” (Lumen Gentium 53). Charity expressed by a mother for her children is a maternal love, though charity takes many forms. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we learn that charity is the theological virtue by which we love God above all things for his own sake, and our neighbor as ourselves for the love of God (CCC, # 1882).
The first expression of Mary’s charity is found in the Gospel of Luke’s account of Mary moving with haste to visit and care for her cousin Elizabeth who at an advanced age was expecting a child. Mary’s “yes” to God is lived out in love and charity first for her cousin and as Mother of the Church for all those who are suffering and sorrowful. This charism of charity is the love that expresses the living presence of Christ. It is the love that calls us to concern for those who are most vulnerable in our communities and in the world.
Attending to the social needs of our brothers and sisters is one of the evangelizing strengths of the Catholic Church. Many people note that the Church is often a leader in the community in attending to the poorest of the poor. We can be rightly proud of the positive Catholic impact in our community. The question we must consider today is how we practice acts of charity. How can we be more attentive to those in our circle who are suffering, who are burdened by sorrow, who are hungry both spiritually and physically? These are opportunities for evangelization.
As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Assumption, we see that just as we are called to imitate Mary in life, we also hope that we will come to share her glory in heaven, for like her that is our final goal.
Pray the Salve Regina.
What acts of charity can I practice in the next week?
How can I ask Mary for her help?