Sunday, May 1, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year C). Mass Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67:2-3; 5, 6, 8; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter falls in May, the month dedicated to Our Lady, which is appropriate, because the day’s readings show three ways Our Lady is a model of the Christian life.
Mary, the model disciple.
In the Gospel, Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
This is exactly what happened in the case of Our Lady. Elizabeth sums up Mary’s greatness this way: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
We know what this meant in Mary’s life: It meant that the power of the Father “overshadowed her,” the Holy Spirit “came upon her,” and the Son of God lived in her womb — and then in her home.
For us, it means something analogous: We become children of the Father, partners with the Holy Spirit and live in the fellowship of Jesus Christ himself. When we meet a holy person, we often discover that through them we meet the Father, Son and Spirit, too.
Elizabeth had this experience in a major way when she met Mary. Our Christian lives should bring others a little closer to God as well.
Mary, the model of the Church.
But believers are not merely individual disciples; we are together in the body of Christ, the Church. Ever since John saw a vision that doubles as the story of both Mary and the Church in Revelation 12, the Church has seen Mary as the model not just of each of us individually, but for all of us as a Church.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks to the Church when he says the Holy Spirit will “teach you everything and remind you of all I told you.”
The first reading shows what that it looks like when the Holy Spirit guides us. It is an account of the Council of Jerusalem, when the Church solemnly declares four codes of behavior designed in part to make the Christian religion more available to Jews as well as Gentiles.
In proclaiming this decision, the apostles begin: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.” Here, the Church, in partnership with the Holy Spirit, is bringing forth new life, just like Mary did.
Mary, the model of hope in the life to come.
Last, Mary is also the model of what our life after death will look like.
Today’s second reading is a vision of heaven where “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.”
This is both a tour of Mary’s new home after the Assumption and our future home.
Her life of humble discipleship, cooperation with the Church and life in the Holy Spirit meant that death was not the end for her. It was a new beginning — as we hope it will be for us.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.