Our religious Congregation honors Mary under this title which, at first glance, seems completely irrelevant to our current global reality. “Apostle” is a Greek word meaning “one who is sent.” Only we’re not going out much these days. More likely, we are the ones sending others: to deliver our mail, do our shopping, or drop off a pizza on our doorstep without touching anything.
How do we understand our identity as apostles in this unusual scenario? And where does Mary, Queen of Apostles, fit in?
We celebrate the feast of Mary, Queen of Apostles, on the Saturday before Pentecost. This is the moment when Mary joins the first apostles and disciples of the Lord in the upper room and prays for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church. It is a day of new birth, mystery, and power: an exciting and essential chapter in our salvation and life in Christ. But a few days before this transformative event in the history of the world and of the Church, Saint Luke describes a somewhat different scene—and it is not entirely dissimilar to the isolation, impatience, and anxiety we face today.
Moments before Jesus ascends to His Father, He gives His disciples some peculiar instructions: “He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4). The Apostles had just witnessed the Resurrection of the Lord. They might have raced to the ends of the earth with the good news, but instead, Jesus tells them to go home and “wait.” Indefinitely.
The Apostles don’t seem to appreciate these instructions. In a move that most of us can probably sympathize with, they pressed Jesus for details. “Lord,” they ask, “will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:5). In other words: Are you going to fulfill your promise now? If not now, when? What is your timetable, exactly? Jesus’ reply is blunt and frustrating: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has fixed by his own authority …" (Acts 1:7).
It is not for you to know.
These are hard words to swallow. In truth, we want to know all the details. The Apostles wanted to know when God would establish His Kingdom on earth. We want to know our loved ones will be safe, our jobs will be secure, our churches will re-open soon, and that life will eventually return to normal. We want dates and deadlines so we can plan our lives accordingly.
But this is not the disposition of an apostle, of “one who is sent.” And this is why we need to look at Mary.
Mary is the Queen of Apostles because she welcomes the word and will of God in all its mystery, without demanding anything from it.
Throughout the entire narrative of Christ’s passion, death, resurrection, and ascension into Heaven, we never hear her ask for details, explanations, or a schedule of events from the Lord. She simply and courageously listens and responds to the word of her Son, however that word expresses itself in the circumstances of the moment. “Let it be done to me, according to your word" (Luke 1:38) is her constant refrain, and on the day of Pentecost, as she “devoted [herself] to prayer” (Acts 1:14) for the coming of the Spirit upon the Church, she whispers these powerful words a second time—not only for herself, but for all the apostles, including us.
Let it be done to them, Lord, according to your Word.
Form Christ in them, as you once formed Christ in me. Set them free from the need to question, control, and worry, and send them out into the world to proclaim Your goodness with their lives.
Can we receive this prayer?
In this time of waiting, we may be tempted to demand too much information, much like the first Apostles did. We may catch ourselves pouring over the latest news updates, anxious for every detail, number, and timeline that can make us feel more “in control” of the current situation and our uncertain future. But if we search too hard for the next opportunity to work, shop, travel, or return to “life as usual" on our own terms, then the Lord cannot send us. If we fix our gaze on the ends of the earth and do not stop to hear and obey the Holy Spirit in this present moment, we could miss the very people whom God most desires to reach with His Love: our spouse, our children, our siblings, our elderly parents, our next-door neighbor, or our community members.
Let us lean close to Mary, Queen of Apostles, and learn to be true apostles from her.
May she teach us to stop controlling and start listening. May she show us how to rest from making demands (including the unrealistic demands we place upon ourselves) and learn what it means to be sent by the Lord and to do His will. May she accompany us through the mystery of these days and train us to embrace what God permits, as she herself has done, with a generous and trusting heart. May she give us her own, unshakable confidence in “the love of God [which] has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” so that we, like her, might communicate God’s goodness and salvation to a world in need (Romans 5:5).
Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.
by Sr Amanda Detry, FSP