Peter, Mary and Grandmother
Years ago I remember the tragic death of a 20-year-old man.
I was the local Priest and spent much time with the family. In the first days the family was in utter chaos. There was shock, anger, total bewilderment. Naturally. There was a complete lack of structure and we could not really plan for the Funeral Mass.
This continued until the arrival of the grandmother!
She was delayed a few days as she lived interstate. When she arrived at the home I was there and it was a marvel to behold.
The grandmother did not say a word. She simply put her arms out and three generations approached her. She embraced them with great love and the ultimate consolation they were looking for. There were many tears but very few words.
Although the pain continued, after that moment of embrace, we were able to move on to the next stage of preparing for the funeral.
It seemed the grandmother did not want to find answers to the mystery surrounding her grandson’s death. She simply wanted the mystery of life and death to surround them all in a silent family embrace. This family embrace expressed the unity of both the “Petrine” and the “Marian dimensions” of our Catholic Church.
In this season between the Resurrection and Pentecost, we observe in the readings how the early Christian Church is forming.
Certainly there were “governance issues.” We might talk of the ‘Petrine’ dimension given the primary role of Peter and the apostles. But this cannot be the only dimension. The Church is not a type of machine functioning according to plan; just another corporate organisation, albeit ecclesiastical.
We need a heart! We are the Body of Christ! We are to ponder and treasure the life, death, resurrection and sending of the Holy Spirit of Jesus, the Son of God, in our midst.
Eminent theologians call this the “Marian dimension” of the Church. It is Mary, the Mother of God, who is the prime example of this dimension. Hence, we call it “Marian”. We think of Mary in a special way in this month of May.
Both the Petrine and Marian dimensions are needed in the Church, like two lungs of the one body.
In these times of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are concerned about the health of the world and its future. Perhaps the Church’s most sublime role in these times is to “embrace” the world, like this wonderful grandmother, to give it hope and strength.