"That Your Joy May Be Complete"
May 20th Readings Reflection: Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter
Today is traditionally the feast of Our Lady, Queen of Apostles, a feast observed on the Saturday after the Ascension each year. This title of Mary honours her role in the early days of the Church as she provided for the spiritual and physical needs of the Apostles. We know from St. John’s Gospel that he took Mary “to his own” (Jn 19:27 DRB) as his Mother. He built Mary a home in Ephesus where she spent the last years of her life in prayer and sacrifice for the Church. The Apostles would visit her home, and she would minister to their needs. St. Luke visited Our Lady in Ephesus as he was writing his Gospel, which accounts for the strong Marian themes in this Evangelist’s Gospel.
Mary’s queenly authority over the Apostles is perhaps best seen at Pentecost, which we shall celebrate liturgically next Sunday. We know from Tradition and historical accounts that Mary remained with the Apostles in the Cenacle after Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven; she joined the Apostles in prayer as they awaited the coming of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles in the form of tongues of fire, Mary received her Bridegroom once again. This reality is beautifully depicted in sacred art, such as the 15th century illumination seen below.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about joy: “Until now you have not asked anything in my name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.” When I read this passage, I immediately thought of an order of Benedictine nuns that has been on my mind recently. The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, are a traditional order of consecrated religious women living the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. Like their patroness, the Queen of Apostles, these nuns live secluded lives of prayer and penance offered for priests. I have the immense blessing and honour of interviewing one of their superiors for an upcoming two-part article that will be published here on Missio Dei.
When I was on this order’s website recently, I saw a picture of some novices (the second stage of religious life) who had just taken their vows. Their faces were absolutely radiant, and one novice was smiling ecstatically as she received her new religious name. The picture speaks volumes about the true joy that comes from a life completely dedicated to Christ. Priests and religious sisters and brothers live this life in a very unique way, taking Christ and His Church as their Bridegroom or Bride.
However, today’s Gospel reminds us that this joy is available to each of us by virtue of our Baptisms. All of us, as followers of Christ, can experience the joy that comes from knowing that God loves us infinitely and wants us to spend eternity with Him in Heaven. No matter what our vocation may be—marriage, single life, priesthood, or religious life—we have the “blessed hope” (Tit 2:13) of eternal salvation and Christ’s Second Coming. Let us then be joyful, knowing that this vale of tears is only temporary and that an eternity of joy awaits us if we remain faithful.
Beautifully done! "Joy" is sometimes a "mystery" of the faith.
That was a very nice column today Chantal. Thank you and God bless you!