We are in the month of May. For a long time May and October have had a special focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus. Respect for Mary, Our Lady, has been part of life in the Christian community from the beginning. The scriptures say “all generations will call me blessed, because the Lord has done great things for me!’

In John’s Gospel Mary is there at Canna in Galilea when Jesus does his first public ministry, at the instigation of his mother, at the wedding feast turning water into wine. She is also there at the cross in His final great act of ministry when Jesus offers Himself to the Father for the salvation of the world.

Christianity was never meant to be an individualistic thing! Certainly, a personal relationship with God is very important, indeed very central. However, we are also very much part of a Christian community. We are a communion of Saints, the mystical body of Christ. We are interconnected by the Holy Spirit.

Our prayer and care for each other sustains us. We come together in the name of Jesus to support and strengthen each other.

The living and the dead belong to the communion of Saints. In Christ we are all alive. Even though there is so much that we, as yet do not know about the next life we do know that God’s love sustains us forever. It has been a strong belief in the Christian community that our love and prayers is not just between the living; it is also between the living and the dead.

As a member of the communion of Saints, Mary is a member of our Christian family. She is indeed the first Christian disciple. Mary was the first one to say ‘yes’ to Jesus at the Annunciation and kept on saying “yes” throughout her whole life to God and the ministry of Jesus.

So, while Mary is important because she is the physical mother of Jesus, she is also very important as a woman of faith. The Vatican Council, and many other Church statements in the past, call her ‘Mother of the Church”.

Jesus on the cross gives us Mary as mother when he gave her as a mother to the ‘beloved disciple’.

So, the month of May is a reminder of Mary for us as a friend, mother, role model. As a member of the communion of faith she helps us by her prayers and love.

There are some who question and criticize our respect and devotion to Mary. This criticism is in contradiction of a very old Church practice of respect for Mary. Healthy Catholic devotion to Mary has a very important place in our Church life. It is part of mainstream Christian practice and has been so for many, many years.

We are blessed to have her in our lives.

God Bless you today.

+Charles Gauci

Bishop of Darwin