How Jesus and Mary model obedience, triumph and presence

Pietro Perugino's "The Crucifixion with the Virgin, St. John, St. Jerome and St. Mary Magdalene." (CNS photo courtesy National Gallery of Art)

In this month of Mary, during this National Eucharistic Revival, I have been meditating on the links between Our Eucharistic Lord and His mother. Three traits of Christ’s Eucharistic presence stand out, each mirrored in Mary’s life: Christ is humbly obedient, triumphant, and — simply but significantly — present.

His humble obedience is readily evident: the Creator of the universe is hidden under the appearance and taste of something inanimate, small, and unexceptional. Obedient to the Father’s will for our salvation, Christ undertook to fulfill the Jewish Passover meal, becoming on Holy Thursday our food and on Good Friday our sacrificial lamb, whose Blood would save us forever from death. Christ did this eagerly, certain in His knowledge that the Father’s plan is good, even if it permits us to traverse “the valley of darkness” (Ps 23).

Luke’s Gospel teaches how Mary modeled this humble availability to the Father’s plan: fully aware both of her own lowliness and of the unique exaltation of divine motherhood, Mary consented to the Lord’s word with “rejoicing” (Lk 1). As she followed the thread of that word, to Egypt, to Nazareth, to Calvary, Christ must have marveled at her attentiveness to the Father’s voice and readiness to do His will. “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it” (Lk 11:28). Christ would have drawn strength from His mother’s faith in the goodness of God’s plan, even when that plan involved immense suffering for both of them.

This brings us to the second point: the Lord we worship under sacramental veils is not only crucified but also risen; He suffered and is now triumphant. It is specifically His risen body that is present in the Eucharist. “Christ, once dead, dies no more. Death has no more power over him” (Rom 6:9). The suffering and death that touch every human life are not the end of the story. At Mass, He offers us the same glorified Body He offered to doubting Thomas’s probing touch, promising that “he who eats [my flesh] will live forever” (Jn 6:51).

Mary shares this triumph — most clearly in the Assumption, but the young Jesus must also have discerned His heavenly Father’s triumph in the way Mary lived daily life. Her virtue would have consistently overcome sin, misunderstanding, and apathy, bringing light and peace to her neighbors and family.

Finally, Christ in the Eucharist is present to us. This is obvious but not self-explanatory. Why does Jesus choose to be ever present in our tabernacles? Among the reasons St. Thomas Aquinas offers is Christ’s desire for friendship with us. Essential to friendship, Aquinas reminds us, is time spent in one another’s presence. Since Christ wants to be our Friend, He stays with us loyally, no matter our sins or indifference. This committed presence is something we see in His mother, too: despite the agony of the Cross, she did not run away. Despite the cowardice of His Apostles, she rejoined them after the Resurrection, gathering them tenderly in prayer as they all awaited the outpouring of the Spirit.

Mary, Mother of the Church and my mother, teach me faith in God’s goodness and zeal to do His will; teach me hope in His promises of good things to come, the resurrection of my body and the redemption of my soul; teach me love, so that I want to spend time with Him in prayer, as He wants to spend time with me.

Sr. Maria Veritas Marks is a member of the Ann Arbor-based Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.


AOD-CSA: June Article Bottom