Mary, The Church and The Holy Spirit

This week, we resume the reflections on the lessons we can draw from Mary’s life and how she received and shared the life of Christ. Because this Sunday is Pentecost, we will skip ahead of the usual order and consider Mary’s presence with the early Christians at that glorious event when the Church was made manifest to the world. Pentecost was, and is, a great Jewish feast that occurs seven weeks after Passover, celebrating God’s appearance at Mount Sinai and the giving of the law through Moses.

And so, on the fiftieth day of Easter, as Jews and other people of good will were gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost, Mary, the Apostles, and about 110 other Christians were there in the same upper room where Jesus celebrated the Last Supper. See Acts 1:15, 2: 1. As they prayed together, the Holy Spirit came upon them under the appearance of a great rushing wind and tongues of fire that rested above their heads but did not burn them.

Inspired by this glory and power, these early Christians went forth into Jerusalem and proclaimed the Gospel, which people from nations around the known world heard, each in his own language. About 3,000 people joined the Christian faith that day. See Acts 2:5-41. As St. John Paul II put it in his 1986 encyclical Dominum et Vivificantum, the Church “has never left [the Upper Room.]

Spiritually the event of Pentecost does not belong only to the past: the Church is always in the Upper Room that she bears in her heart.” For to this day, in the Church, we gather as many different people, from all sorts of backgrounds and experiences, of all ages and personality types, celebrating each other’s gifts and united in our common goal.

With Mary as the one mother of the human race, and Holy Mother Church as the one institution that gathers people from every time and space, we are united in our common worship, teachings, community and works of charity. But that unity does not mean that individuality is suppressed.

Rather, as the one sun and common rainfall bring forth different types of food and produce all over the world, our common Savior, our common faith, our universal mother, our prayers and efforts together make each of us the son or daughter of God that we are called to be in the heavenly Jerusalem where the best of all nations will walk in the light of the Lamb. See Rev. 21:24-26.