My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
It is wonderful to see you all here today for this historic celebration, the first memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Mother of the Church.
I am so happy that Pope Francis has given us this new day to remember Mary each year on the Monday after Pentecost.
As we just heard in the Gospel, this was our Lord’s dying wish and his final gift to us.
The words that Jesus spoke as he hung on the cross, he speaks today to you and to me — and to the whole Church. He tells us look into the eyes of Mary, and he says to us:
Behold, your Mother!
Jesus gives us his own Mother — to be our Mother.
Today we are blessed to reflect on this beautiful gift, which is part of the mystery of God’s plan for our lives.
When I was a child, my parents taught me and they taught my sisters also that we had mother on earth and also a Mother in heaven. And of course — I see so many of you from Catholic Schools and I’m so happy that you were able to make it today. I went to Catholic School too, and I learned, in Catholic School, importance of devotion to Mary, our Blessed Mother.
We started every day, when I was in Catholic Schools — a long time ago — with prayers to Mary and we tried to pray the Rosary as often as we could.
I still remember my principal in Catholic school. He used to ask us, especially during the month of May, he used to ask us a couple of questions. He’d always say: “Did you bring it with you? Are you using it?” And of course, he was talking about our Rosaries.
So I still have one and I have it with me all the time.
So that was a quick way of helping us to understand the importance of having our rosary always and especially praying it every day.
I still pray the Rosary every day and I recommend this devotion to you. The Rosary is a beautiful way to show our love for Mary and to center our lives on Jesus, learning to love Jesus as Mary loved Jesus.
It is amazing to think about it: we are sons and daughters of the Queen of Heaven. The Mother of Jesus loves each one of us as one of her own children.
So my brothers and sisters, God has such a great love for each one of us!
In the great story of salvation, the Father sends his only Son to be born of a woman. Jesus comes to us through Mary — and we go to Jesus through Mary.
She is a part of his mission from the beginning. From the moment she says “yes” to the Angel — and he is conceived beneath her Immaculate Heart, by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In her love, Mary she carried Jesus in her womb. She presented him in the Temple and raised him with St. Joseph in the holy household at Nazareth.
Mary was there with his apostles when Jesus began his earthly ministry at the wedding feast in Cana. She was among the women who followed him, listening to his teaching and witnessing his miracles.
And when he was betrayed and abandoned, Mary stood by him at the foot of the cross — so that he would not die alone.
And as we heard in the first reading today, when Jesus rose from the dead and ascended into heaven, Mary became the maternal heart of his Church. As we heard:
All of these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,
together with … Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Mary is still the heart of the Church, the Mother of the family of God. The Mother of Jesus still goes with us, sharing our joys and hopes, helping us in all the challenges of our daily life. She still opens her arms to us with tender love, to give us comfort and guidance.
In the Gospel today, we heard how the disciple took Mary into his own home. And this is what Jesus wants for you and for me.
Jesus wants you to take Mary into your homes — into your lives and into your hearts. He wants you to love her as a mother. He wants you to feel the love that she has for you. And he wants you to love Mary, as he, Jesus, loved Mary.
So my dear brothers and sisters, this is the meaning of this new feast today:
Behold, your Mother!
See her as Jesus sees her! Love Mary as your mother! Ask her to be a mother to you and to never leave you! Ask her to intercede for you and help you grow in faith and to do the will of God.
The saints know that we go to Jesus as he came to us — through Mary. As she helped Jesus to grow, Mary’s mission now is to help us to grow as sons and daughters of God. And she has so much to teach us!
Let’s keep praying the Rosary! It is my favorite prayer because it is just beautiful. And it helps us to center our life in the mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary is always there.
So, in honor of this beautiful feast, we are offering a gift to everyone in the family of God here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. We want to give everyone a little image of our Blessed Mother for their homes.
And my prayer is that this little image will help us all to grow in our love for Mary our Mother.
May our Blessed Mother Mary help us today and always to follow her Son and to grow in holiness and love!
1. Readings: Acts 1:12-14; Ps. 87:1-2, 3; 5, 6-7; John 19:25-34.